Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Believe the Hype

Stephen Strasburg made his much-anticipated debut last night and the hype machine was running at full tilt like the hype before Show Girls came out and everyone was jacked to see Jessie Spano take it all off. Thankfully for Strasburg, his debut was much more impressive than Elizabeth Berkley’s. Strasburg went 7 innings, gave up 2 runs on a HR, walked none and struck out 14 mixing a 100 mph fastball with a 91 mph slider and an 82 mph changeup.

The doubters will point out that he pitched against one of the worst line ups in all of baseball, and that it was only one game. Yes, he still could have a Mark Prior injury (by the way, Prior’s debut was 6 innings, 2 runs, 1 HR and 103 pitches). But if Strasburg stays healthy, it is obvious that he has the demeanor and the electric stuff to be special. Everyone wants to see him get tested against a better line up, but that will have to wait until at least his third start because his next start is against the ineptitude that is the Cleveland Indians.

Everyone points to the zero walks during the 7 innings last night and it was impressive, but he did fall behind early in the count quite a few times, but was able to fight back with a nasty fastball that tickled the triple digits consistently, even later in the game. Combining that with a knee-buckling curve means he has the chance to light up the ball park every fifth day just like Dwight Gooden did in 1984. The unfortunate part is that the Nationals still aren’t very good and Strasburg will likely bump up against his innings limit well before the season is over, meaning the team will shut him down early.

Yet with that being said, enjoy watching this guy throw when you can – his stuff is electric and he works quickly which makes for a much more entertaining baseball game.


The Lakers stepped up and took back home court advantage last night with a win in Game 3 over the Celtics. The streaky Ray Allen went from Finals record for 3-pointers during game 2, to one of the worst shooting performances in the history of the Finals, going 0-12 from the floor. It was obvious early that Kobe Bryant determined the Lakers were going to win the game – despite him not having a strong shooting performance. He was getting rebounds, steals, assists and hustle plays to put the Celtics on the ropes early.

Then late in the game, Derek Fisher took over. While Fisher has had a knack for hitting clutch jumpers throughout his career, who knew he would be deadly with the floaters and drives to the hoop? It has been an incredible rejuvenation for Fisher, who suddenly looks like Bianca Kajlich – not going to be a hall of famer, but a solid set of skills that can be counted on in the clutch. (Kajlich is also the ex-wife of USA soccer star Landon Donovan).

The Celtics could be in some serious trouble at this point in the series, because their offense has been horrific and their defense has been good, but not good enough. Like I predicted before the series, the only thing that gives them a chance to win is Ray Allen, and he is more about streaks than Frank the Tank in Old School. When Ray-Ray is shooting like Jesus Shuttlesworth, the Celtics win like in game 2. When Ray struggles or completely stinks, they lose like they did in games 1 & 3. That doesn’t seem to have the makings of a championship banner by my math. Pierce has been hideous offensively during the series, and he’s not going to suddenly break out of his slump with Ron Artest sharing his shorts. Garnett stepped up last night, but there’s a good chance that he blew any reserve energy he had and will not be able to continue at that pace.

The Lakers have a chance to step on the Celtics throats in Game 4, and you have to believe that Kobe will be fired up to prove once again that he is the best closer in the game today.

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