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About Strasburg’s debut…

May 27, 2010, 1:08 AM EDT

SAN FRANCISCO — I know everyone out there is flustered over the date of Stephen Strasburg’s debut, with those who have already purchased tickets for June 4 against the Reds upset that they’re hearing reports it won’t happen that night.

A couple of points…

1. The Nationals have not determined the precise date of Strasburg’s debut yet. They’ve established a “window” during the next homestand for the big event, but there are factors still at play (weather, Strasburg’s performance, other pitchers’ performance, injuries) that can alter the exact date.

2. As I’ve been writing for several weeks now, the June 4 date makes sense because it would allow Strasburg to make two starts on the homestand. It would also require him to get an extra day of rest after his scheduled start Saturday for Syracuse. If he stays on normal rest, he would start June 3 at Buffalo and then debut June 8 against the Pirates. That date also makes plenty of sense. But it would only take one rainout or extra day of rest to bump him back to June 9.

3. Neither the Nats nor this writer has ever come out and stated definitively the debut will take place on any specific date, only that it will come during the June 4-10 homestand. Fans who have already purchased tickets for any of those games have known all along there were no guarantees.

4. As much as we all love to speculate and project, there’s really been no way to declare a precise date. And there still is no way to do that. The Nats themselves still don’t know the exact date.

You can read more about the mystery surrounding this major D.C. sporting event on CSNwashington.com.

  1. Anonymous - May 27, 2010 at 1:31 AM

    I only bought my June 4th ticket on speculation because at least it's on a Friday.

  2. A DC Wonk - May 27, 2010 at 1:55 AM

    "If he stays on normal rest, he would start June 3 at Buffalo and then debut June 8"But why in the world would they "waste his bullets" with yet another minor league game? He's on a strict innings limit this year, why waste some of them in Buffalo?The only way it makes sense to me is if they think that they will get the SuperTwo a year earlier with a June 4 date.Any other thoughts?

  3. David Moore - May 27, 2010 at 1:55 AM

    So the team clearly knows what is going on and aren't really working too hard to dissuade the rumors and ticket buying. I understand all the caveats and qualifiers – but if he doesn't start (absent some dramatic issue like an injury) on that homestand then the FO simply wanted to get all the money from tickets. They could much more energetically slow down the rush if they weren't likely to use him. I hope they aren't stupid enough to anger their fan base that much.

  4. Anonymous - May 27, 2010 at 2:08 AM

    The way Strasburg;s debut is being handled is yet another perfect example of how the Nats management has no clue how to treat their fan base. If they (Rizzo, Riggelman) know the date, what's the big secret? At this point why not just delay Strasburg's debut until the next time the Phillies play in DC so Kasten can load up the tour buses again.

  5. A DC Wonk - May 27, 2010 at 2:12 AM

    C'mon, they can't announce the date ahead of time — there are too many variables: possible rainouts, the fact that other players are effected by it, etc. Yeah, the Nats get a bonus if they sell out June 4 when he's not pitching and June 8 when he might — but, hello?, they'd also get two sellouts if he pitched June 4 and 10.To blame the Nats on this is a case of cynicism exceeding common sense, imho (no offense intended)

  6. Andrew - May 27, 2010 at 2:12 AM

    DC WONK – A player with three or more years of service, but less than six years, may file for salary arbitration. In addition, a player can be classified as a "Super Two" and be eligible for arbitration with less than three years of service. A player with at least two years, but less than three years of Major League service shall be eligible for salary arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and he ranks in the top 17 percent in total service in the class of Players who have at least two years but less than three years of Major League service, however accumulated, but with at least 86 days of service accumulated during the immediately preceding season.

  7. A DC Wonk - May 27, 2010 at 2:20 AM

    Andrew — thanks — I got that. But they can't know what top 17% is yet — certainly not with such precision that they want to delay it by four days, do they?

  8. Section 222 - May 27, 2010 at 2:26 AM

    I'm an STH, so I don't care all that much when the first start is. It should have been during the Oriole series as far as I'm concerned. But Mark, you say the following:"The Nats themselves still don't know the exact date." I just don't believe that's a true statement. Of course, nothing is certain (rainouts, injuries, unexpected developments, whatever). But at this point, just a little over a week away, they "know" in the sense that they have a plan. We all know that. It's hard to imagine any reason that they aren't announcing that plan (with all appropriate caveats) other than the hope that they can sell some more tickets for several more dates in this next homestand. Kind of pathetic really. Is the negative fallout really worth it? Tonight, Dibble said categorically on the TV broadcast that the Nats have confirmed that SS's first start will be during the Pirates series. Is that how you read what was said today, or is he just acting more certain than is justified (which wouldn't surprise me in the least).

  9. Sec$39.99 - May 27, 2010 at 2:26 AM

    Man, there's just no talking to some people.

  10. Anonymous - May 27, 2010 at 2:29 AM

    I have no objection IF the reason for not starting him on the 4th is an actual, sensible baseball reason. He gets roughed up Saturday and they want to give him another start in Syracuse, or weather moves the date, etc. But keeping him down when he's just blowing people away makes no sense at all.Except from a $$ NOW standpoint. The team has built up a real sense that they just don't care that much about the fans. And then they're shocked that the fan base is evaporating. A sense that they've done this coy dance as a means of getting two (or three) sellouts for the price of one will just alienate that many more fans. They haven't lied to fans … they just haven't gone out of their way to correct matters until after the money is in their pockets. Look, this is a venal sin, not a mortal one (unlike the opening day Phiasco). It's just another brick in the wall of an ownership that someday will likely wonder why no one cares about their team … and never figure out their own culpability.

  11. natsfan1a - May 27, 2010 at 2:52 AM

    Not flustered here, just enjoying the psychodrama.

  12. Section 222 - May 27, 2010 at 3:23 AM

    reposting my comment from NJ to add to the psychodrama:One of the main factors driving the 6/4 speculation was that by starting him that night, the Nats could sell out a second date in the homestand (6/9 or 6/10). So the rumor was fueled by the assumption that $$$ would drive the decision. Now they get the sellout on 6/4 created by the rumor, another one on 6/8 or 6/9 when he actually makes his MLB debut, and then two starts in the next homestand. So those who assumed the decision would be driven by $$$ were right. It's just that the F.O. was one step ahead and figured out a way to make even more $$$. Ah the irony!

  13. Carl in 309 - May 27, 2010 at 4:00 AM

    I confess I've been of the view that having 2 starts in the next home stand was compelling–because this is a business and we'll be paying to see this guy! I won't, however, be disappointed personally if these are not the dates–the only two games in this string I don't have are the first and last games of the home stand (just my luck). I guess my attitude is he'll get here when he gets here–and we'll be bloody happy he's arrived.

  14. NatsNut - May 27, 2010 at 4:20 AM

    I'll admit I was a little smug knowing i had tickets for June 4, 5 & 6, but really…nobody owes me anything. The hype is getting just a litttttle out of hand here folks if you get angry for buying tickets on speculation then blame the team for that kind of conspiracy. If I really need to see Strasburg THAT badly, another ticket on the 8th, 9th, 10th or 25th is not going to kill me. You know, there ARE still 24+ other guys who've been playing well. And c'mon, even if Strasburg's not there, won't Friday be fun anyway? Practically sold out ballpark full of fans who may be bandwagoners but have at least been paying attention enough to think they'd catch Strasburg? How FUN! My only request is that if you are at the game Friday, let's cheer loud anyway, especially "Let's go Strasburg!"

  15. Sec$39.99 - May 27, 2010 at 4:21 AM

    What that "two starts in the homestand" model fails to take into account is the fact that they will play more games this year after that. If he only starts once in this homestand, he'll start twice in the next one. It's still three starts.

  16. Sec$39.99 - May 27, 2010 at 4:25 AM

    Seriously, you should be thinking "I saw Livan Hernandez. I saw Ryan Zimmerman."Because, you know what? Nobody you tell about it will give a damn. Seriously. It's a game. Chill.

  17. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - May 27, 2010 at 6:00 AM

    As StanK has so thoughtfully reminded us, "The only way you're guaranteed to see his first start is to buy a season ticket."But if I show up at Jesus's first game and two-thirds of the park is full of Phillies fans and their attendant skanky girlfriends, I'm going to smell a rat here.StanK mislead his fan base? Here? Us? Him?Count on it. Slimeball.

  18. Grandstander - May 27, 2010 at 6:03 AM

    I was kinda bummed that I wasn't able to buy cheap seats to the June 4th game. I usually grab day-of grandstand seats, but kinda knew they wouldn't be available for Strasburg's first start. So many bandwagoners, getting burned on pure speculation, actually makes me laugh. The Nationals never said he was starting that date, it was bloggers (Mark included) speculating. A speculation is just that, it's a gamble, and you got burned. Did you expect the Nationals to come out and stop people from buying tickets? They never lied, or even misled.I, for one, am happy will I get to see a Friday night game on the cheap, from all the people who rather toss a ticket to see the team that I love, because one minor leaguer is not getting the callup the expected.

  19. Dave - May 27, 2010 at 9:38 AM

    All the Nationals FO has to do to "anger their fan base" is get up in the morning. It doesn't matter what they do, some people will be mad. If you folks who attend one game a year bought a ticket for June 4 because you think somebody told you definitively that would be Strasburg Day, then you are a chump. Nobody told you that.So get over it, quit whining, and go back home. Those of us who attend a lot of games at Nats Park will see Strasburg later on if it's not that weekend.

  20. Anonymous - May 27, 2010 at 9:59 AM

    Bandwagon? Nats? Wow. Who would have believed it. I'm a season ticket holder since 2005 and I, for one, welcome bandwagoners. fill the park with them. whatever it takes to get folks cheering for the Nats at our ballpark. The only downside is the loss of the empty seat beside me to stretch out and the longer lines at Max's stand behind the scoreboard for felafel. (Nothing says baseball like fried ground chick peas in pita).

  21. A DC Wonk - May 27, 2010 at 10:40 AM

    @Dave: "All the Nationals FO has to do to "anger their fan base" is get up in the morning. It doesn't matter what they do, some people will be mad."Dave, you got that right. Consider: when June 4 was the date, people thought it was a money grubbing move made just to have him pitch his first two starts in the homestand. Now that folks are thinking it's June 8, people think it's a money grubbing move because lots of tickets were sold for the 4th.Folks, Bowden is gone. Rizzo is better. Enjoy the team, and enjoy the fact that Rizzo signed the best pitching prospect in a generation, who happened to be represented by $cott Bora$, in a negotiation where Rizzo made Bora$ blink and got the deal done 77 seconds before the deadline.Instead, we're complaining because the Nats aren't announcing his first start? (Which, as I wrote above, they can't — because it'd be tentative anyway, and, further, it effects other players, too).Sheesh!

  22. NatsJack in Florida - May 27, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    As someone who has to travel 900 miles to enjoy Nationals Park and who has already made two trips this year, I purchased the Cincy series tickets back in March in hopes that I might get lucky and see SS in his debut.I'm still looking forward to my weekend in DC, the games, hanging out at the Tune Inn before games, and the general feeling of being home again that I get every time I visit the city of my youth.I never expected all this hullabaloo about his first start. The FO can not win in any scenario. The best option is to do what is best for the TEAM and SS. I am sure they have their reasons for what ever date they pick to send him out for the first time and they have no obligation to share those with the fans. When did we know Matt Chico was going to be the fill in starter a couple of Saturdays ago? It was about 48 hours prior to his start. I expect the same sort of time frame for the announcement of SS's first start.And for the record, I am attending 6 games in early July (San Diego and SF Giants) which I was pretty positive I'd be seeing SS by then.The people most hurt by this are the scalpers who bought blocks of tickets then posted them on Stub Hub and I say Hooray! for that.

  23. NatsJack in Florida - May 27, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    As a P.S.The last source of information that I would put any stock in is Mr. Ladson.We will all know when we know.

  24. Anonymous - May 27, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    Speaking as a Nats fan since '05, I am way more concerned with being at the game where Strasburg throws the first pitch in the Nats' first NLDS game in a few seasons' time. I'm content to watch his debut on MASN in the meantime. Queue the Jim Mora "Playoffs?! You're talking about playoffs?!" indignation. Whatever. I said it and I believe it.

  25. Bowdenball - May 27, 2010 at 1:17 PM

    Funny to compare the reaction here to the reaction at WaPo. Much more reasonable and measured here. I suspect that's because most of us around here have season tickets.I am very mildly perturbed that they're apparently not gonna start him twice during that home stand, though. I'd like to see him pitch his first two games at home for the Nats fans. Not a big deal, but it would be fun for us.

  26. Sec 204 Row H Seat 7 - May 27, 2010 at 1:19 PM

    The NATS are playing good baseball people. They won their 24th game (a month ahead of last season's 24th win) last night against a Cy Young winner! Losing anothe 100+ games would alienate the fanbas, not dissapointing the "DC Social Set." Hopefully most of them show up, see some good baseball and come back for more.

  27. Bowdenball - May 27, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    I was just thinking the exact same thing, Sec. 204. How great would it be if the Nats can stay above .500 on this road trip, and come home to play an exciting Friday night game in front of a big crowd against another team in the playoff hunt?Hopefully the fans can turn next Friday into a celebration of the fact that the Nats are still relevant even without Strasburg, and a welcome home for one of baseball's most surprising teams.

  28. JayB - May 27, 2010 at 2:35 PM

    I for one have tickets to all the games so by beef is a little different. He is ready and he can help….Lerners are cheap and hurting the team now by trying to save money by keeping him down….after June 1 as I understand it they win the game and save the super 2 money so why not June 4….it makes the team better…do it.

  29. Deez Nats - May 27, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    I'm pissed at myself. I had tix to the June 8 game on my plan and traded them in for another game because I have an out of town commitment on the 9th and won't be able to make it. I am kicking myself because if I would've just kept the tix, I could probably sell them on stubhub for well over face value. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  30. Dave - May 27, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    I was hoping for June 4 myself as I bought tickets for the Strasburg start speculation and that it was a Friday night so it would be a good a time as ever to get out to the park. For selfish reasons I cannot see any reason for him not to be in Washington after June 1, if he dominates again in his next Minor League start. Innings are innings. On second thought i guess going against the Pirates would be a nice warm up.One more note. . . I have not really heard much in the way of advertising of the Miller Lite Party Pack other than on the broadcast. Have there been any radio spots? This is a fantastic deal for anyone who wants to catch a drink (free on at that) and a game on Thur. Fri. or Sat. We now have 2 Sports specific stations and I cant remember hearing anything.

  31. The Great Unwashed - May 27, 2010 at 4:54 PM

    Amidst all of the hand-wringing from people who bought tickets for June 4th expecting to see Strasburg, no one's mentioned this:What if he (gasp!) struggles and loses his first start? Just because he's the annointed one doesn't mean he's not human. He's bound to have nerves from making his first big league start, all of the hype, all of the expectations, etc. I wouldn't be surprised if that affected him. And that won't mean he's not the real deal either.Remember, he's on a strict innings limit. Given it'll be his first start (whenever that is) he'll probably get yanked after five innings anyway. And what if he's losing, or the bullpen blows it after that? Then what?Me? I plan on watching his first start from my couch while enjoying a better brew than Miller Lite that also costs much less than $7.50. There will be plenty of opportunities to see him live sometime in the future when I can get good seats at a decent price.

  32. Dave - May 27, 2010 at 5:21 PM

    unwashed just an FYI. . .There is plenty of good stuff. Courtesy of the sports bog http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dcsportsbog/2009/04/the_beer_at_nats_park_this_sea.html Bottles: Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller Genuine Draft, Miller Lite, Coors Light, Bell's Oberon American Wheat Ale, Harpoon Summer Ale.Draft: Peroni, Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, Bell's Kalamazoo Stout, Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale, Southampton Triple Abby Style Ale, Harpoon UFO Hefeweizen, Williamsburg Tavern Brown Ale, Flying Dog Old Scratch Amber Lager.In other words, if you want to drink to "I can't remember what happened in the third inning" levels, that will be a lot easier and tastier this time around.

  33. Anonymous - May 27, 2010 at 5:27 PM

    I for one am kind of happy he's not starting the 4th or it looks like it. I don't want to see all the scalpers making a ton of $$$ off of this. I think its funny these people will actually be losing money, does anyone want to spend hundreds of dollars to see the Reds.And for all the people who think the Savior is a sure success, thats what they said about Ben McDonald and Mark Prior. If Stras turns out to be a bust, you'll be laughing about this in a few years. Baseball is probably the least predictable sport for judging prospects.

  34. ilovethenats - May 27, 2010 at 5:36 PM

    @ A DC Wonk – thank you. thank you. thank you. Your insight is what I wish I would hear more of. Just go to the GD game people, and enjoy it, regardless!

  35. The Great Unwashed - May 27, 2010 at 5:48 PM

    Appreciate the beer insight, Dave. I see you're a true professional in that area. Anyway, you're right, I've noticed a good variety of brews at Nationals Park, but my point was to poke fun at the outrageous prices for cheap beer. See you at the Red Porch…

  36. Dave - May 27, 2010 at 6:19 PM

    I am with ya on the prices, at least we can get a little more flavor with that $7.50. It is nice to see some thing other than the lite domestics.

  37. Anonymous - May 27, 2010 at 6:42 PM

    As for beers, I've also discovered Newcastle on tap behind section 141.

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