Pic via RealClearSports.com
Strasmus has finally arrived in DC as the phenom pitcher will take the mound tonight against the Pirates. Much is expected out of the young ace after an impressive showing in AA and AAA minor league ball and the anticipation has reached a fever pitch, though the outcome will surely not be as bad as the movie.
What is expected out of Strasburg in the next few years is domination, although what should be expected is an upward sloping curve of excellence. Many fans expect Strasburg to come out and win every game, and while that would be nice, it is not realistic, especially with offensive and bullpen problems. Curt Schilling has said the young Nats pitcher will be the best pitcher in the league when he takes the mound tonight. Many hope this to be true as well, although it is also an unrealistic expectation. I have heard others say his chances of throwing a no-hitter are high, another ludicrous statement from people that have not even seen him play yet.
Becoming a great takes extensive development because the level of play in Major League Baseball is so high, unlike what Strasburg has faced at San Diego State and the minor league level. “I will have no great words of wisdom for [Stephen Strasburg]. I’ll just ask him how far home plate was from the pitching rubber at Syracuse, and he’ll say, ’60 feet, 6 inches,’ and I’ll say, ‘Great, because that’s how far it is here in the big leagues,” Jim Riggleman told Tim Kurkjian in anticipation of tonight’s game. And while Riggleman is correct about that, there are some major differences in the batters he will face, batters that have been playing at the major league level for years. It takes time to truly understand the complexities of pitching at the major league level. He has the tools and the big league pitches, but the development of Strasburg is a continuing project.
What Strasburg has a chance to do tonight is begin building his legacy. If he is to be the best pitcher in the league, the journey to the top starts tonight. It starts with consistency and it ends in domination. GM Mike Rizzo and the Nationals organization have done a good job easing him into the big leagues and all the waiting, watching, and wishing for a chance at success starts tonight. For such a young organization that has experienced very little success, the day Mr Strasburg comes to Washington is a monstrous step forward. After all the suffering of DC sports fan, today symbolizes a day in which an individual has a chance to help the city’s fan base out of the fetal position and into the winners circle.
At least, that’s all we can hope for right now.
Photo via DFB.de
Welcome back to round two of the DMV Sports World Cup preview and predictions post. This is an important group for most of the readers on this site because it is the USA-England group. Let’s get right into it.
Warning: Do not use my predictions to gamble in ANY WAY! You will lose.
Winner Winner Can We Have Something Other Than Chicken for Dinner?
This is a tough group to pick the winners solely because of the first game: USA-England. US fans have been clamoring about this game before they were even grouped together. Why? The hell if I know. England has lost David Beckham and Rio Ferdinand for the tournament as well as gone through a nasty cheating scandal between John Terry and former national team player Wayne Bridge, but in crunch time, England can still get things done on the front line. Look for Wayne Rooney and Peter Crouch to silence the US fans.
2nd United States
After beating #1 Spain and getting into position to win the Confederations Cup last year, expectations have never been higher. I question the depth of the team though, especially with Jozy Altidore injuring his ankle, because at the top, the United States does not have a striker that can break away like Altidore can. His speed is the key for the United States and without him at 100%, I cannot see them defeating England.
Bye, buddy. Hope you find your dad…
The team boasts some European experience with midfielder Karim Ziani and left-back Nadir Belhadj at English club Portsmouth, but I don’t see them getting it done against England or the United States. If they can beat Slovenia and tie the United States, things could get ugly for the Americans.
The first tournaments for the country came at Euro 2000 and the Korea/Japan World Cup in 2002. You can’t expect much of that team back eight years later, though.They barely got into the Cup in a play-off with Russia and I do not expect them to get any further than the group stages.
Winner Winner Turkey Dinner
My father is German and I have been following the German squad since USA ’94. Now that I got that out of the way, Germany should show a strong group stage showing even without Michael Ballack on the squad due to a knee injury. Expect to see the best name in soccer (SCHWEINSTEIGER!) to move to center midfield, something he has become familiar with during the past season at Bayern. A strong defense and fundamental passing is the key to German success, but a quick striker can make a good move to get around the large Germans.
The Michael Essien injury obviously hurts the Ghanaian team, but the squad cruised through qualifying, losing just a game and surrendering the goal after they had already qualified. Sulley Muntari and Stephen Appiah will have to pick up the slack in the midfield without Essien there.
Serbia is the team that had a lot to do with almost knocking France out of qualifying, taking their group in the qualification stages. Nemanja Vidic, Dejan Stankovic and Milan Jovanovic are names to remember when watching these games.
They need a point from their first match against the Germans if they have hopes of surviving. Ghana is a fast squad they will need to lock down the backline to avoid the counterattack in the second match. It could be a short tournament for the Socceroos.
Come back tomorrow for a Group E and F preview and predictions post.