So after taking in his first home minor league start in Harrisburg, and after writing about the hype leading up to his first start. After reading countless other articles and various segments on sports television I decided Monday night, to attempt to attend the Strasburg debut in person.

First let me thank the Kings of Leon. I was supposed to attend a concert in Scranton. So I had taken Tuesday, and Wednesday off from work. Then I get phone call from a buddy telling me the Ticketmaster called and the KoL concert was postponed until August.

I had been tossed Lemons. While working out Monday night, I realized I could easily squeeze some lemonade out of this situation. I could drive to DC. Go to the game. See the Strasburg debut. Now… would anyone want to go? Didn’t find anyone, but that just means taking in the game, “han solo” – not an issue. Bigger issue? How much would I get gouged for a ticket?

Answer? Not much. After 10 minutes of research on Stub Hub I found a bunch of single seats available. I picked a seat in right field, 100 level, and paid 48 bucks for it.

Next issue? Parking. I have heard parking near the stadium is brutal, and that the best thing to do is hit a metro station and take the train in. The Green Line ends right at the stadium. So I did my research and figured I’d park at the College Park (Which is where University of Maryland Main Campus is located) and take the train into the game. Despite my ignorance of how their public transportation system worked, this wasn’t difficult. AND was very cheap. Between parking in the parking garage and taking the train it only cost around 10 bucks. Or, about half what it can cost to park around the stadium complexes in Philadelphia.

**adsense_4block**

Got to the stadium about an hour an a half before the first pitch. The Pirates were taking Batting Practice and doing some fielding. I decided to walk around the concourse of the stadium to take it all in. First thing I noticed, tons of Strasburg t-shirts, and jerseys. I had witnessed this in Harrisburg, and I don’t know why I thought it’d be any different at the big club. Second thing I noticed as i got to the first base sideline? Playoff like media presence. All down the first baseline past the Nats dugout there were director’s chairs and tents of various media outlets. Down near shallow right field is wear MLB Network was housed. I saw Harold Reynolds playing some half assed catch with some of the Pirates in right field (He didn’t have a glove). It was then I noticed that ESPN was over on the Third Base side. They were the only ones over there. I snapped a few pictures of the stadium, and continued on to my seat.

And DAMN were my seats good.

I figured with a “big game” mark up that I would be back away from the field. I was wrong. I was within spitting distance of the field. 3 seats from the rail in my row. 4 rows from being in the front row of the section. So another thank you. This time to whoever was getting rid of that ticket. I can’t believe how good that seat was. Especially when the reason I went to the game made his first appearance. As he strode to right field, and people noticed the stadium stopped and gave the kid a standing ovation for strolling casually right towards where I was seated.

Strasburg walking to Right Field = Standing O

He proceeded to warm up as more and more people crowded into our section trying to snap pictures. Security tried to get people who didn’t have tickets in this section to get out, and most people complied without much in the way of a complaint. During the pre-game hanging out and warm up it was the first time I had heard someone say the phrase “Stras-mas”. I laughed. Because it fit . People were excited and buzzing. We were all kids waking up on Christmas morning. We didn’t know WHAT we were getting. But we we couldn’t wait to see it!

As he continued to work tossing into long tossing and back to just regular length tossing, the crowd filled up and was buzzing about the start. He headed to the bullpen to get warm up pitches in and while he was out of sight for me I was reminded every so often by the pop of the ball hitting the catcher’s mit I’d hear emanating from the ‘pen. When Stephen was done he started to make his way back to the National’s dugout, and just like in his first appearance as he walked… and people noticed, they raised to their feet and applauded the young man. So without so much as toeing a Major League rubber he had received two standing ovations. As much as I was enjoying this I couldn’t help but think, how can this kid POSSIBLY live up to this?

….

And then he started pitching. His first 2 strike count, and again people raised to their feet for Stephen Strasburg. It may have been the first… it wasn’t going to be the last. As he went on to baffle the opposing Pirates all night long. As you’ve heard, read, and seen. He struck out 14. Walking none in the process. Each of those last 7 bringing their crowd out of their seats and building to a crescendo in the 7th inning with Strasburg’s 7th straight strikeout. Each one bring out a deafening roar, as he lowered his head in a very business like manner. After striking out the first batter in the 7th, his 5th consecutive at the time… Adam Dunn turned to the 1st Base Umpire and 1st Base Coach and jokingly offered them his glove. Seeming to be saying, “I sure as hell don’t need this thing… you guys want it?” And as the 7th straight Pirate was sent down via strikeout the right field stands erupted into a loud “Ste-phen Stras-Burg *clap clap clapclapclap*” chant.

The thing would have lasted through the half inning break, but the PA started playing “Take me out to the ballgame”, seeing as it was the 7th inning stretch. Though I would have loved to have seen that chant last through the break. How insane would it have been for the TV audiences to come back from commercial break and the crowd in attendance still chanting the kid’s name.

Strasburg was set to lead off the bottom of the 7th and was pinch hit for. There was more than a smattering of boos for the home town pinch hitter (I’m still not sure who it was, poor guy)… not so much for the hitter than for the fact that it signified the end of Strasburg’s magical night. Despite the game being close there were some who left once Stephen departed the game. Not me. I wanted to see the end. So I stuck around and watched Tyler Clippard and Matt Capps pitch scoreless innings to lock down the first win in Stephen Strasburg’s Major League career. Funny side note, Clippard’s warm up music was Peaches by the Presidents of the United States of America. I found this to be hilarious.

I stuck around as the game was ending to snap a few more pictures, mostly of the Baseball Tonight guys who came back out onto the field to do post game stuff including interviewing the Pirate who hit a 2 run home run… (A change up that stayed up in the zone and got deposited over the Nats bullpen and then thrown back onto the field by the fan). A nice crowd hung out around there.

People didn’t want to leave.

We all knew we had witnessed something special and wanted to make sure we squeezed every drop out of that night. People will be speaking of that debut for years… maybe decades… maybe longer. It is a “I remember where I was when…” moment. In my own hype piece I wondered what would happen when Hype met Reality?

For this night Reality stared unflinchingly and mowed hype down… with vicious fastball after vicious fastball, and then made it buckle with a nasty curveball. Hype, like the Pirates Strasburg faced, was no match for Reality that night. That night Stephen Strasburg was a Real Major Leaguer. Washington DC was a REAL baseball town… and their collective futures look REAL good.

**Note: all the images in this article were taken by me**