VIERA, FL - FEBRUARY 28: Pitcher Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals poses during photo day at Space Coast Stadium on February 28, 2010 in Viera, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Baseball fans are counting down the final hours of B.S. -- Before Strasburg.
San Diegan and Aztec alum Stephen Strasburg makes his Major League debut this evening at Nationals Park against the Pirates, although some would say he will still be going up against Triple-A hitters.
Former Nationals outfielder Lastings Milledge, obviously, doesn't see it that way.
"He's got to face nine of the best hitters in the world," Milledge told the Associated Press, apparently with a straight face.
That's Lastings Milledge, the owner of a .246 batting average this season, who plays for the Pirates, who have scored the fewest runs in the National League and have a .237 team batting average.
Let's just say this isn't Murderers' Row.
Even still, there will be plenty of hype surrounding Strasburg's debut. The fans will ooh and ahh over his fastball and salivate over his wicked, knee-buckling curve. And when he records his first strikeout, Nats Park will go wild. But by this point, Strasburg is used to it. He's had gawkers following his every move on the mound while playing for San Diego State University and at Double-A and Triple-A levels.
"He's had more attention than any other player I've seen come into baseball," team president Stan Kasten said.
While fans impatiently waited for Strasburg's call-up to the Majors, the comparisons to other stud prospects in MLB history got hot and heavy. Since he was drafted No. 1 overall last year, there were lots of comparisons to pitchers who failed to live up to the hype, including Ben McDonald and Mark Prior. But as Strasburg mowed down minor league batters with ease, those comparisons quieted. Lately there have been comparisons that are just too bizarre to address -- like one comparing him to Walter Johnson.
Is it too early to induct him into Cooperstown?
Let's at least wait until he makes his first pitch for the Nats. That comes tonight at about 4:05 p.m. The game will be show live on MASN and on the MLB Network.
Make sure you DVR it, because your grandkids will want to watch it over and over again 30 years from now. Heck, pack up that DVR and put it into storage. Like that infield dirt, footage from this game could be a collector's item worth more than gold.
Or at least more than Strasburg's next contract.