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Is Strasburg still a big deal?

Jul 16, 2010, 11:24 AM EDT

After a nice, four-day respite, the Nationals are back to work tonight, opening a 10-game road trip through Florida, Cincinnati and Milwaukee that will serve as a significant test for this club.

That may explain, in part, why Jim Riggleman is going with Stephen Strasburg right out of the gate tonight against the Marlins. He's trying to set a positive tone as the season's second half begins, and who better than Strasburg to help make that happen?

This will be the kid's eighth career start, only his third on the road, and it figures to be the lowest-profile outing he's had yet. The Marlins, who draw some of the smallest crowds in the majors, are expecting about 25,000 at Sun Life Stadium. That's a pretty good gathering for them, but it will pale in comparison to Strasburg's previous starts. He's yet to pitch in front of a crowd smaller than 31,000.

This does raise a question, though: Is Strasburg-mania starting to die down? His last start (at home against the Giants) drew 34,723 to Nationals Park. It also drew the smallest media gathering yet for oneRead more »

  1. Anonymous - Jul 16, 2010 at 11:29 AM

    Is it starting to die a little? Of course, it would be foolish to pretend otherwise; the Nats (and especially opponents' ballparks, where Strasburg is just another ace shutting down your offense) aren't going to keep selling out for a noncontending team, no matter who is playing. Will he still have a significant positive impact on attendance at Nats stadium? Definitely. In particular, I think a lot of people who decide they want to go to a Nats game are going to pick a day he pitches–if only because everyone likes to see the home team win.

  2. Anonymous - Jul 16, 2010 at 11:41 AM

    "Do you still look at every Strasburg start as a big event, or are these just like any other game in your mind?"Neither. Each start isn't a big event anymore, but they are bigger than the other four games in the rotation.

  3. NatsJack in Florida - Jul 16, 2010 at 12:02 PM

    25,000 at a Marlins regular season game is equal to a sell out at Nationals Park. I went to the last Nats series in Miami and had to pay $50.00 for the $100.00 seats right behind the Nats dugout on Stub Hub.The demand is so great for the Strasburg game tonite that those same seats are available for $55.00 a whopping $5.00 premium! Imagine that!Baseball in Miami is pathetic.

  4. Anonymous - Jul 16, 2010 at 1:05 PM

    Is it still a big deal? Are you kidding? The earth shakes in DC the day he pitches. That's big.

  5. aspenbubba - Jul 16, 2010 at 1:06 PM

    I still want to see the kid pitch. I went to his first game and I am scheduled for one of his upcoming projected starts. I enjoy watching the Nats (.440 % of the time) and don't want to miss Stras record setting PG or team record for strikeouts.

  6. natsfan1a - Jul 16, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    Well, I for one hope that the hype and mania are diminishing. Maybe then we could just let the kid pitch (which I will grant you is interesting to watch). Also, maybe then we wouldn't have to wait in long lines at concessions or the bathrooms, experience The Wave multiple times per game, hear newcomers at the team store refer to our A-ball team as the "Potomac Navies" — eh, you get the drift. Although, we *do* like the color of their money, eh, Stan? Ka-ching! :-)

  7. Richard - Jul 16, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    Yeah, he's slowly becoming just another super ace, which sounds good to me, but he'll be a novelty all of this year. — How about another topic, too. Does anyone understand why J Max was brought back to the mother ship? Not to play regularly. They have Morse to do pinch hit and occasionally play from the right side. Is somebody gonna be traded soon?

  8. Stew Magnuson - Jul 16, 2010 at 1:24 PM

    If I'm in town and he's pitching, I'm going to the park to see him pitch. That's my policy until the end of the season. I keep going thinking I will recapture the magic of his first start. It hasn't happened yet. But I'm hopeful.

  9. Anonymous - Jul 16, 2010 at 1:52 PM

    Next time a Strasburg start will mean something is when he is going for his 20th win, next year, then his 100th win, 200th win and 300th win, beyond that YAWN, just another pitcher on a hopelessly bad team. I am actually more excited about Jordan Zimmerman's 2010 debut!

  10. Anonymous - Jul 16, 2010 at 2:04 PM

    Certainly look forward to his starts with a lot more anticipation than, say, Atilano's, but maybe his obligatory postgame pressers can cease? Somewhat embarrassing last time when he was in the spotlight on a night when Dunn hit three bombs.

  11. Anonymous - Jul 16, 2010 at 2:14 PM

    Maybe it's not as big a deal anymore for the casual baseball fan. But for me, I look forward to the Strasburg starts with great excitment. Today is Strasmas again!!!

  12. JaneB - Jul 16, 2010 at 2:20 PM

    It SHOULD die down. We are headed toward a New Normal, where we can count on anything from terrific to mind-blowing pitching from him. And that will be for years. People are nuts to miss a start, especially when he is pitching out of town, but that's their loss. We get him more often!

  13. Anonymous - Jul 16, 2010 at 2:35 PM

    When will El Duque make his minor league debut?

  14. Anonymous - Jul 16, 2010 at 2:37 PM

    Everyone I know who is a casual fan and wants to attend a game always expresses preference for a strasburg game. But those kinds of fans are net add of zero in revenue for the team. However, there are a lot of people who otherwise wouldn't buy any tickets are still interested in going to the park. Unfortunately, the main driver behind declining attendance in the second half will be their non-contender status. Remember, in early June you could at least think about the Nats contending for the wild card

  15. NatinBeantown - Jul 16, 2010 at 3:50 PM

    Anon 7:29 raises a good point: Strasburg is certainly still a draw, but is he still drawing new fans (as in, fans that don't attend or watch games with any frequency). Are the other four games seeing increased attendance, the same, or a decrease because folks who go occassionally are grouping on Strasburg starts. Aside from the first few games, how much will SS add to the gate this year, versus just shifting the same attendance numbers? (As in, you can draw 60k for a three-game series with 20-20-20, or you can do it with 30-15-15. The latter doesn't really bump attendance.)

  16. Steve M. - Jul 16, 2010 at 3:57 PM

    Didn't you all see the All Star special from the FanFest in Anaheim?It was Strasburg fever there. The guy wasn't even in the All Star game and he was the biggest deal at the FanFest. Posters, life size cutouts, memorabilia and his own section in the Majestic store.

  17. Anonymous - Jul 16, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    I think management knew the hoopla would be there from the beginning, and were hoping this would happen so that Strasburg could concentrate more on his work and less on the surrounding mania. Its a good thing. Now find 2 more like him.

  18. greg - Jul 16, 2010 at 4:18 PM

    it's still special, on some level, but it's not the same as it was for his first couple of games.we have to hope that it's always a little special on some level. and let's face it, if you have a choice of going to one of two games, one with strasburg pitching and one with anyone else on the nationals staff pitching, you're likely to go to the strasburg game.

  19. JayB - Jul 16, 2010 at 4:28 PM

    Still a big deal home and away….I have seen 4 SS starts now. He is the closest thing I have seen to Nolan Ryan in his prime in Houston. Saw him throw a now hitter there.Mark, if is not too much effort….can you please get some information to us on International FA signings….Rizzo has said he was very active….what does that mean and why no follow ups?

  20. bdrube - Jul 16, 2010 at 4:35 PM

    For us baseball geeks he's still a big deal. For the casual fan the hype has passed and they are already on to the next big thing. Lebron James would draw more than 25,000 tonight if Miami if he played horse on a local playground.By next season, SS will propbably mean no more than a couple of thousand more attendees even for home games. So I hope management is prepared to field a competetive team to compensate for that.

  21. A DC Wonk - Jul 16, 2010 at 5:44 PM

    Still a big deal int the way (like mentioned above) Nolan Ryan was, or (showing my age) Sandy Koufax was. The bottom line on them was: this guy is capable of throwing a no-no at any time, (or, short of that, some other MLB record) and I want to be there when he does it.(And, next time he breaks a record, or does some other astounding thing — the hype will crank back up a notch).And even short of that . . . there's something mighty fine about watching a athlete that's so good at what he does, it's like watching an artist at work — whether it be Michael Jordan, or Ovechkin, or Strasburg.

  22. natsone_va - Jul 16, 2010 at 5:47 PM

    Off topic here but I was reading this Yankee blog and it made me laugh a little. http://riveraveblues.com/2010/07/going-for-the-kill-bring-in-adam-dunn-32049/#comment-971901The offers these fans were first proposing for Dunn were funny. (At least I hope Rizzo thinks the same).So I had to post a link to this homer:http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=5091123and then remind them of our series victory at the new Yankee Stadium last year. There's nothing like having a little fun with Yankee fans.

  23. Anonymous - Jul 16, 2010 at 5:53 PM

    Agreed about the concession and bathroom lines, natsfan1a. I'm a half-season plan ticket holder and it's pretty obvious to me based on the few sellouts I've attended (all Opening Days/Nights, Strasburg's first start, Red Sox exhibition game) that the stadium has a long way to go before it's prepared for every day crowds of more than 30,000 or so. Fortunately it looks like they have plenty of time to prepare.

  24. Anonymous - Jul 16, 2010 at 7:05 PM

    Of course SS is the only NOTS start out of the 5, you care about….but it's hard not being totally annoyed knowing the obsessed and Paranoid(Prior/Wood) Riggleman is covering his axx, and loses track of the game standing in the dugout counting pitches. You too find yourself at times…. counting…knowing the grim reaper is on his way to the mound with the early HOOK..and call to the bullsxxx pen….Win/loss be dammmmmmed.

  25. Annoying d-bag - Jul 16, 2010 at 9:34 PM

    Please get us info about international signings. I've asked about 100 times and I'm locked in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet, awaiting the exciting news.

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