What's in a debut performance?

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Strasburg closeup.jpgWhose major league debut was this?

Opponent: the Pirates, at home;

Line: six innings pitched, 4 hits, 2 earned runs,1 home run allowed, 10 strikeouts.

Give up? It was Mark Prior, from May 22nd 2002.

There’s a lot of that going around as people try to get their mind around Stephen Strasburg’s performance today, obviously, from references to J.R. Richard to Bob Feller to Juan Marichal to Karl Spooner.  If you extend it from debuts to rookie seasons you can throw in references to Kerry Wood, who threw that 20K, 0 BB game in 1998 to Doc Gooden, who threw two sixteen-strikeout games in 1984 and another with 14 that year as well.

I suppose there are a couple of ways to go with this. One is to freak out and make favorable comparisons to Feller and Marichal. Another is to get hysterical about, say, Frank Tanana’s or Mark Fydrich’s arm and start in with the too-much-too-soon thing.

Both seem rather silly, of course. Bob Feller and Juan Marichal would have been Hall of Famers even if they got shelled in their debut.  Nothing in Stephen Strasburg’s delivery or work load suggests the kind of injuries that Kerry Wood’s early performances did. I watched that 20K game, and even then I knew he was destined for Dr. Andrews’ office based on the torque of his delivery.

For me, I keep coming back to the Karl Spooner comparison. The guy struck out 15 dudes in his first game and made only sixteen more starts in his whole major league career. The singularity of his debut accomplishment had no predictive power whatsoever.  It just tells us that we never know with these things.

I think Strasburg is going to have a great career. After reading a whole day’s worth of reactions to his debut, however, I think I’m ready to watch it actually happen rather than sit back and try to predict it.

The Yankees Twitter account roasts the Red Sox account on the anniversary of “The Steal”

Associated Press
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Today is the 13th anniversary of one of the most exciting and iconic plays in postseason history. On October 17, 2004, the Yankees and the Red Sox faced off in Game 4 of the ALCS. The Yankees had a 3-0 lead in the series and held a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the ninth. The Red Sox were three outs from being eliminated by the Yankees. Again.

Kevin Millar led off the inning facing Mariano Rivera and worked the greatest closer in baseball history for a walk. Terry Francona inserted Dave Roberts as a pinch runner. Everyone in the building knew that Roberts had one job: get to second base and scoring position. Despite everyone knowing it was coming, Roberts swiped second base. He’d come around to score, the Sox won the game in 12 innings, would win the next three and the World Series, completing the greatest comeback in postseason history and ending an 86-year championship drought.

Understandably, the Red Sox wanted to remember that wonderful day today. So they tweeted about it:

The Yankees, however, weren’t gonna let that one go by:

Savage.