Strasburg, and Other Notable Player Debuts
Tuesday night's electric debut for the Washington Nationals Stephen Strasburg was positively amazing...and positively uplifting for a franchise that has been mired in futility since joining the league. In his first big league start...some 12 months after he was selected #1 overall by the Nationals in the 2009 MLB draft...Strasburg has immediately become something that all players wish to become - must see TV.
The rookie's 14 strikeout performance, in which he looked better and better with each run through the Pirate's lineup, was one of the most impressive performances I can ever remember a rookie ever having in his debut at the professional level. What we saw is that the sky is the limit for this kid (who topped 100 MPH on a fastball in the 7h inning). Teams will adjust and pick up on his tendencies, but I don't think that's enough to make Strasburg vulnerable...his 84 MPH curveball that buckled the umpire will be enough to prove that statement accurate in the future.
After witnessing most of his performance, I was curious to research other notable debuts at the professional level. There is no rhyme or reason to the players I chose - I just found them to be noteworthy for some reason. Check it out:
LEBRON JAMES: Facing the Sacramento Kings on opening night in the NBA (2005), James line was crazy good. 25 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists, and 4 steals. We were all witnesses.
YOVANI GALLARDO: The Brewers second round pick out of high school in 2004, Gallardo took the hill against the San Diego Padres on September 27, 2007. His line wasn't awe inspiring. The soon to be ace of the staff worked 5 innings, allowing 3 earned runs with 7 strikeouts.
DAISUKE MATSUZAKA: April 5, 2007, the Red Sox rolled out their prize off-season acquisition against the Kansas City Royals. The results were outstanding as Dice K's Gyro-ball fooled the Royals all night. 7 innings, 1 earned run, 6 K's and a W was his line.
PAYTON MANNING: The top pick in the 1998 NFL draft was ready to prove he was better than the #2 pick, Ryan Leaf. That didn't take too long, Manning didn't have a great day against the Dolphins on Sept. 6th, 1998, but he didn't have a very good team either. In a showdown with Dan Marino, Manning tossed for 302 yards, 1 TD and 3 picks en route to a QB rating of 58.5 in a 24-15 loss.
MICHAEL JORDON: Back in 1984, Jordan played his first game for the Chicago Bulls against the Washington Bullets and scored 16 points on 5-16 shooting. Not great, but he turned out OK.
NOLAN RYAN: Waaaaay back in 1968, Ryan made his first big league start for the Houston Astros. He was rock solid going 6.2 innings, yielding 3 hits and no runs. Ryan also struck out 8 batters in that game and in his sixth start, struck out 14 (what took him so long?). Ryan later became one of the most intimidating pitchers in baseball history. He even drew this quote from Reggie Jackson:
"(Nolan) Ryan's the only guy who puts fear in me. Not because he could get me out, but because he could kill me. You just hoped to mix in a walk so you could have a good night and go 0-for-3."
There are thousands of players you can add to this list...I just wanted to wet the appetite a little...feel free to do some digging on players you're curious about.