What they're saying about Stephen Strasburg's debut

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Strasburg back.jpgThis is normally a retrospective feature, not an anticipatory one, but we all know what’s going to happen tonight: a normal baseball game in which Strasburg will either pitch well or he won’t but in either case all of the magic pixie dust will be gone and the hard business of actually, you know, forging his major league baseball career will be in front of him.

But that’s tomorrow. As of today anything is possible, so let’s capture that irrational exuberance for posterity!

  • Pirates’ outfielder Delwyn Young: “I really couldn’t care less, to be honest with you. I got
    nothing to say, really. It’s just another pitcher . . . Hey, Mark Prior.”
  • Carolyn Johnson Thomas: “I like everything I read about him. He’s got great potential, and I
    hope that he’s with Washington for 20 years, as my dad was.”  [BTW: Ms. Thomas’ dad was Walter Johnson. He pitched a little.]
  • DangerNat of Nationals Inquisition: “After that first pitch tonight it is going to be
    something to see thousands of Nats fans have a Strasgasm all at once.”

  • Ken Burns: “This kid has a lot riding on his shoulders tomorrow night. It’s now
    moved out of historical precedent and into kind of The Natural;
    archetypal fiction in which we endow our baseball players with certain
    superhuman capabilities that transcend the game and life itself.”
  • Natasha Jasso: “Natstown is gonna be like church on Christmas and Easter; So many there– with so few who understand.”

Confession time: I want Strasburg to do well long-term because I love pitching and I want baseball in D.C. to be a success. But still, the hype is getting a bit much for me. When I woke up this morning I started thinking about how cool it would be if the Pirates came out and hung six runs on the kid as a little initiation to the big leagues.

Probably asking too much, sure, but this is baseball and all of the commotion is getting a bit too footbally for me.

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.

Report: Dexter Fowler will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after lining out during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.

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Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.

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Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.

Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.

Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.