Following Stephen Straburg’s second start of the 2011 season, and presumably after he cleaned off the blue paint from his preceding Smurfification, the second-year starter spoke with the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore about his outing, and more importantly his experience being back in the big leagues. Among many things, Straburg said that he hopes at some point his starts will become more routine, and be less of an event. Here is what he told the Post (via HardballTalk):
“Answer the bell every fifth day. Kind of just get into the monotony of it, not really focusing on, like, ‘Oh, here’s his next start, Strasburg strikes again’ or whatever. It’s a ton of starts that you get in the big leagues. It’s a long road. It’s a grind. That’s kind of what I’m looking forward to. It’s still kind of the whole atmosphere of like, all the hype and stuff when I’m pitching.”
I hate to break it to Straburg, but if all goes according to plan, every start he makes from now forward will continue to be an event. That’s the kind of talent he is and the potential he has. It’s the kind of talent we haven’t seen in the Majors in some time, the kind of pitcher who everyone tunes in to watch pitch regardless of allegiances. The kind of ace that captivates the baseball world with his sheer dominance.
At least that’s what I hope he is and what I think deep down every Nationals fan believes he can be. While it may not be such an event when today’s top pitchers, C.C. Sabathia, Clayton Kershaw, or possibly even Justin Verlander have their outings, it was not long ago that the baseball world stopped every time Pedro Martinez or Randy Johnson took the hill. Their stuff was so transcendent, their control so impeccable, that fans knew they would see something special each time they took the mound.
From everything I have heard from those in the know, Strasburg does not have a superstar’s personality, and the above quotation shows it. The man clearly loves baseball, and loves competition, but you can tell that he doesn’t feel comfortable being the center of attention. It will be interesting to see what effect that personality has on his career. For Pedro, we saw his larger than life mentality helped him attack every batter he faced with an unmatched and fearless confidence. Johnson on the other hand had a personality more like Strasburg’s. It was one that was more reserved off of the field but his quiet, calm approach was intimidating in his own way.