I understand itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s en vogue at the moment to either drip with sentiment that Ã¢â‚¬Å“itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s good to have baseball back,Ã¢â‚¬Â or to write Ã¢â‚¬Å“above it allÃ¢â‚¬Â type stuff about how none of it matters anyway. I was determined to do neither. But then came today, when I gave in to the fact that maybe enjoying some baseball that doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t count isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t such a bad way to spend an afternoon.
The Nationals were one minute and 17 seconds away from disaster on signing deadline night. But right before the witching hour, they signed Stephen Strasburg, who weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to dub Ã¢â‚¬Å“The SaviorÃ¢â‚¬Â around these parts.
And you know what? Suddenly, the prospects for one of the biggest laughing-stock franchises in sports arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t looking that bad anymore. And it all starts with Strasburg. I havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seen much of him, but from what I have seen during the Olympics and his senior year at San Diego State, he has a nasty hook and has a 100-mph burner.
Not only that, but Strasburg has the It Factor. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not the household name that a LeBron or Sid the Kid is Ã¢â‚¬â€œ he logically should be, which warrants future investigation of baseballÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s marketing tendencies on this site, so keep your eyes peeled Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but fans of the sport know exactly who he is.
Nobody is ever content to just enjoy what they have in sports. It’s always about finding what’s “next.” ESPN has a whole magazine devoted to this every year. Everyone searched for the “Next Jordan” for years and years, until LeBron James came along. Then it almost immediately became about finding the “Next LeBron.”
Of course, other sports had to have LeBrons of their own.Ã‚Â So this year we have Stephen Strasburg, the San Diego State and Team USA mound phenom who was the first pick in this year’s baseball draft. Never mind that Scott Boras is extorting the Nationals for $50 million (!), the team apparently hasn’t even communicated with Strasburg, and no young pitcher is ever even close to a sure bet.
Then we get Sports Illustrated’s cover story on Bryce Harper, some 16-year-old catcher out in Vegas who apparently is like a baseball version of Paul Bunyan. He hits 600-foot homers, throws 96 on the gun, does volunteer work and gets good grades. He sounds like me in high school, except for, well, pretty much all that stuff. We’ll see how it goes.