Monday, June 7, 2010

Stephen Strasburg: The Factor That Will Unite D.C. As A Baseball Town (A Personal Story)

I get excited about baseball games pretty fast. The prospect of seeing a knock-out starting pitcher or a veteran in the field gets me going. Mix that with one of the game's top sluggers and I just lose it.

Baseball -- to summarize -- makes me happy. It reminds me of summer, which reminds me of my childhood, which reminds me times were simpler once. They were good. And -- they can be again -- every year, once summer returns.

Summer is when the kid in me stakes its claim in my personality for a few month stint. Baseball does that to me. I get eager, over-enthusiastic, and somehow always end up cheering for any and every underdog.

Please blame my love for the underdog on being raised blocks from Wrigley Field.

It's no secret how much I love the Chicago Cubs. They are my life-line. I love them dearly because Wrigley Field and the team played host to many of my most treasured childhood memories.

With that said, I am pleased to announce that my love for baseball transcends my love for the Cubs. I'm proud of this fact and to prove it to all who might have doubted me in the past, myself included, I have purchased a ticket to the over-hyped and much-anticipated debut of the 21-year-old phenom Stephen Strasburg versus the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday, June 8 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

As some of you may or may not know, I have been covering the Washington Nationals this season for We Love DC. It has been an honor and a privilege to not only attend games and watch as a team troubled with a five-year losing reputation make a run at being a successful ball club.

Stephen Strasburg coming into the mix will surely be a turning point in their season, not because of his alleged greatness but because of what he's doing for D.C. in terms of transforming a town of folks who only cheered for their home baseball teams into a town that will defend their Washington Nationals at a bar over drinks or at the airport while traveling.

Strasburg isn't the reason D.C. will become a baseball town, but he is a definite catalyst. Ever since the buzz started generating over when the young'n would make his MLB debut last year when he was a first-round draft pick, there's been a slight increase in ticket sales at Nationals Park. Not a huge uptake, but an increase for sure.

Now, once he takes the stage on Tuesday, people will want to see him -- whether he plays well or not. The numbers are in his favor but he's still young and has learning to do at the Major League level. The pressures are different, the stakes are higher, and Strasburg will learn to cope with these additional mental games as time proceeds.

What I'm excited to see is NatsTown rally around this young man, and by the fault, their team.

I will be present for his first attempt at a Major League win in his Major League debut. But quite frankly, I could care less if he wins. All I want to see is this city do what I've been hoping and wishing it would since I moved here for college five years ago -- become a baseball town.

As a kid growing up as close as I did to Wrigley Field and living the life of a die-hard baseball fan, it's hard to leave that for a town that doesn't understand your passion. Now they will. I'm looking forward to it.

No comments: