Live blogging makes it a bit difficult to step outside the moment and analyze what you’re seeing on a deeper level; usually not a big deal, but considering what happened today, I think it’s important to decompress a bit and let you fine readers know what it was like to be there.
The most important thing to take away from tonight’s game is that Strasburg really is that good. Believe the hype. I had one of the best seats in the house, and really tried to soak in what he was doing out there. I had heard all about the ridiculous fastball, but what struck me most was how much movement his pitches had, how everything had a purpose: he was locating, changing speeds and pitching. This is not a guy just throwing as hard as possible.
Although don’t get me wrong: when he threw the fastball, there were plenty of “Ooooooh!”s, in the press box and the crowd.
In fact, he started many at-bats tonight with the off-speed stuff, which made the fastball for the strikeout that much more dangerous. After leading with the breaking balls, when he reared back for the fastball you barely even noticed he had thrown a pitch. It got to the catcher that quickly by contrast.
The other thing that stood out in my mind was that Strasburg’s innings were ridiculously quick and efficient. You’d be talking to the guy next to you about what he was throwing, and next thing you know, the inning was over. He worked fast too, not taking much time at all between pitches.
The vibe in the stadium was odd, to say the least. With the crowd being as big as it was, the national media there, scouts tracking with radar guns and Air Force Baseball not having the most sterling reputation this year, it was as if we all expected something special to happen. The bar was set so high that for the first few innings that whenever a batter so much as made contact on Strasburg, it felt the same as getting a hit against a regular pitcher. When he walked someone, we were stunned. So honestly, even though it was a great moment, the no-hitter practically seemed inevitable. We expected to see greatness, and got it.
Now to be fair, this was a college game, so let’s not go off enshrining Stephen Strasburg into Cooperstown’s Class of 2035 quite yet. The dominating performance speaks just as much to Stephen’s talent as much as it speaks to the competition he was facing. Again, no offense to Air Force, but they were clearly overmatched tonight. A major league lineup would be a different story, but that’ll be the fun of seeing him come up. And the fact that I’m even framing this argument within the context of “How would a SDSU Junior pitcher fare against a major league roster?” speaks volumes to his talent. That’s the real story here.
One more thing, and this has sadly been lost in all the hype: Stephen Strasburg is a great student. His High School GPA was over 4.65, and he maintains close to a 4.0 GPA in college. Thanks to all the AP classes he took, he only needs 12 more units to complete his degree. Hopefully baseball will promote this aspect of his character more, as it certainly makes him someone for kids to look up to.
That, and his unbelievable talent, of course.