Friend of the blog and current Washington, D.C. resident Dave was in attendance for Stephen Strasburg's legendary start last night, and was kind enough to provide some color:
Here's a quick recap of my day at Nationals Park: First of all, it was a classic baseball day. Great weather, not a cloud in the sky and low humidity which is rare as hell for D.C. I lucked into getting invited to the game by a friend of mine and we were fortunate enough to get really good seats. Now I'm not a huge fan of the ballpark -- to me it sort of feels like a giant minor league park, not a lot of character. But what it does have is fantastic sitelines -- there's not a bad seat in the house.
Anyway, we get to our seats, which were on field level probably 15-20 rows above the Pirates' dugout, only to discover that the Nats had accidentally double-booked some of the tickets in our section. Chaos ensued, and it was totally beyond the capacity of the ushers to resolve or even figure out what do to. We wound up having to miss about an inning going to ticket services, but on the bright side they apologized and upgraded us to the Diamond Club. We wound up sitting directly behind home plate, though unfortunately a handful of rows too high to be on camera.
So, Stephen Strasburg -- I don't think I have any great insights that you couldn't get by watching him on TV, but what I think is most amazing is how easy he throws. That differentiates him from even some of the all-time greats -- I've never seen a guy throw 99mph but look like he's just warming up. His fastball is explosive and it rises like crazy. And his offspeed pitches fall off the table. I was honestly skeptical and I know the results speak for themselves, but this was really an unbelievable thing to witness in person.
In a way he actually comes across as less impressive than he is, only because he doesn't seem to put that much effort into each pitch and then it sneaks up on you at close to 100. Plus, some of the Pirate hitters were missing by two feet. In probably his most impressive performance, he got in a 3-0 hole in the first or second, then struck the guy out on three straight pitches. But the crazy thing was that he made the batter look absolutely little league on the 3-1 pitch, which as everyone knows is the classic hitters' count. Rarely do you see a hitter miss that badly on a 3-1 pitch, but he missed by a hilarious amount.
Anyway, I thought Curt Schilling made himself sound like a moron the way he hyped Strasburg up on ESPN, but it was still pretty awesome to see.
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