Happy Strasburg Day!
Posted on: June 8, 2010 10:03 am
The day phenom David Clyde made his major league debut for the Rangers, Tom Vandergriff, the mayor of Arlington, said, "From now on, time here shall be marked from June 27, 1973."
Now that's pressure. Clyde, just 19 days out of high school, held his own in the most hyperbolically promoted debut in major league history, and went on to an undistinguished career. The Washington Nationals, like the 1973 Rangers a transplant franchise struggling to put fans in the seats, are hoping to get a more lasting impact from Stephen Strasburg, who, in case you hadn't heard, makes his major league debut tonight against the Pirates.
More than 200 media members are expected to be on hand at Nationals Park, which is lucky on most nights to get that many fans (exaggeration alert!). The Nationals are selling standing-room tickets, and even those are being sold at a premium online.
"He needs to take a step back, take a deep breath and kind of soak in the moment because you only debut once in your career. It's a special day for him, also," general manager Mike Rizzo told The Associated Press .
Strasburg is certainly ready. He went 7-2 with a 1.30 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings in Double-A and Triple-A. In fact, you might wonder what took the Nationals so long to call up the right-hander. Murray Chass got Washington president Stan Kasten to acknowledge that "one of the factors" in the timing was controlling Strasburg's service time.
By delaying a player's debut six weeks or so, a team keeps the player from being credited with a full year of major league service time in his first season. Down the line, it delays the player's eligibility for salary arbitration and free agency. The Nationals can now control Strasburg for seven seasons, rather than six, before risking losing him to free agency.
It's a common practice and doesn't violate labor laws. That doesn't mean the players' union is happy about it.
"We are paying attention to that and I would expect arbitration eligibility will be an issue in collective bargaining," union head Michael Weiner told Chass. "It has become so obvious."
The game, which starts at 7:05 EDT, will be shown on MLB Network with Bob Costas, Jim Kaat and John Smoltz in the booth.
-- David Andriesen, CBSSports.com