MissChatter: Strasburg Arrives As Advertised

MissChatter: Strasburg Arrives As Advertised

Wednesday, June 9, 2010 12:30pm

By Miss Chatter

Heading to NatsTown yesterday, I think I had some sympathetic anxiety for Stephen Strasburg before his MLB debut. Stomach in knots and head spinning from the mass quantity of stories ravenously consumed and hype leading up the 7:05 pm first pitch left me frazzled. What if he got shelled? What if he lived up to the hype? Would the mania end after he finally debuted? I tried to go in with no expectations, and I guess I had nothing to worry about as the kid closed the game down not long after the sun had set for the night, fanning 14 Pirates before his seven innings were up for a Nationals record in one game. Um, wow.

Those questions seem to have been answered on a night when Strasburg never even looked at the scouting reports before facing his first nine major league batters (if you want to count the pitcher). Luckily for him, catcher Pudge Rodriguez was activated from the disabled list just prior to the game, and with his veteran knowledge called every pitch. Strasburg trusted him. That trust worked well for the duo and the night couldn't have been scripted better from the weather to the 2 hours 19 minutes sprint of a game that left my head still spinning.

The crowd roared the second Strasburg stepped on the field for his warmup routine and again when he removed his warmup sweatshirt to reveal the 37 on his jersey. Roars erupted again and again every time he pitched to strike two in the count. Waves of fans burst up from their seats with every strikeout, the first against the boo'd former National, Lastings Milledge in the first inning. The energy held on until the final out was closed out by Matt Capps in the top of the 9th after the Nationals offense gave Strasburg the lead in the bottom of the 6th with home runs from both Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham.

If there was anything to be disappointed about, the fact that Strasburg was hitless in his two at bats may be the only point to nitpick, and that's obviously nothing. He hit well in the minor leagues, so the thought that he would get his first major league hit in his pitching debut was something to wonder at. He has to save something for next time to wow the crowd again, I suppose.

Bets were placed beforehand on whether or not Strasburg would pitch 5, 6, or maybe even 7 innings. I figured five given the pitch limit and debut pressures, and stuck with that when his turn to bat was up in the bottom of the 5th. So fans were delightfully surprised when he came out for not only the 6th, but the 7th as well, pitching quickly and economically for a total of 94 pitches. I didn't expect Riggleman to leave him out there for even close to 100 pitches.

So what happens now? I don't think the mania will end anytime soon and I don't even know what the young phenom could do next to top his debut. Pitch a complete game shutout? Perfect game? Okay, that's getting a little crazy, I know. He wore the silver Elvis wig with a prideful face covered in shaving cream pies smothered on him by both John Lannan and Scott Olsen while the fans who lingered along the first base side chanted "Steph-en Stras-burg, Steph-en Stras-burg". Welcome to The Show kid, we're glad to have you! The fruition of the plan is finally evident to fans who have been hungry for a reason to fill the park, stand up and make some some noise together.

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Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

Twitter/City of Las Vegas

Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

The Washington Capitals official #ALLCAPS hashtag started in 2017 during a Caps-Penguins game after the Pittsburgh Penguins' official Twitter account decided to tweet in all lowercase letters during the game. 

Now, as the Caps look to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final ahead of Game 1 Monday, Vegas has followed suit by changing their iconic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign to include only lowercase letters, a jab at the Capitals #ALLCAPS.

Additionally, the City's official Twitter account has changed their handle to "the city of las vegas" without any capital letters and the hashtag #nocaps.

It will be interesting to see how the Capitals' official Twitter will respond...


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Stanley Cup Final 2018: X-factors that could swing the series

Stanley Cup Final 2018: X-factors that could swing the series

The Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights have met only twice in their history. Neither team was expected to get to this point so you can go ahead and throw away the stats, the matchups, the data and the history. A new story will be written in the Stanley Cup FInal.

Who will ultimately win the Cup? Here are four factors that could ultaimtely swing the series.

1. Goaltending

The Caps have faced elimination only twice in the playoffs and Braden Holtby did not allow a single goal in either game. He enters the Stanley Cup Final having not allowed a single goal in 159:27. Andrei Vasilevskiy began to take over the series with his performance in Game 3, Game 4 and Game 5, but Holtby outplayed him to finish off the series in Washington’s favor.

Marc-Andre Fleury, meanwhile, has been the best player in the playoffs. Not the best goalie, the best player.

Through 15 games, Fleury has a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. As good as Vegas has been this postseason, Fleury has stolen several games for the Golden Knights.

Both of these goalies are certainly capable of stealing away a series for their respective teams. Which one will outplay the other?

2. Time off

Rust is a real thing in hockey. Just any team when they come off a bye week. When the Caps and Golden Knights take the ice on Monday, May 28, it will be the first game for Vegas since May 20. That’s over a week off.

Yes, getting rest at this time of the year is important, but too much rest leads to rust and that should be a major concern for Vegas, especially for a team that was playing so well and has so much momentum.

In the Eastern Conference Final, the Caps stunned the Tampa Bay Lightning by winning both Game 1 and Game 2 in Tampa. Could they do it again with a rusty Vegas team? Will the long layoff cost the Golden Knights one or even two home games to start the series?

3. The McPhee factor

Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee was the Caps’ general manager for 17 years starting with the 1997-98 season. He was fired in 2014, but was ultimately responsible for building the core of the Washington team that is now headed to the Stanley Cup Final.

But that also means he knows those players very, very well.

Nicklas Backstrom, Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky, John Carlson, Christian Djoos, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Tom Wilson, Braden Holtby, Philipp Grubauer and of course, Alex Ovechkin were all drafted by McPhee. Jay Beagle was also signed by as an undrafted free agent.

A general manager does not sign or draft anyone without knowing a good deal about the kind of player they are. Does that give McPhee a bit of an edge when it comes to facing the Caps?

4. Speed

The Golden Knights are fast. When the expansion draft was all said and done it was clear McPhee had targeted two things specifically: defensemen and speed. The result is an exceptionally fast Golden Knights team that no one has been able to keep up with so far.

Vegas' speed mixed with the goaltending of Fleury has proven to be a lethal combination. Their mobility makes it hard to get the puck from them or even keep it in the offensive zone. Once they get it, it’s going down the ice very quickly and you better keep up with them or it's going to end up in the back of the net. Once they build a lead, it is very difficult for teams to dig their way out as evidenced by their 10-1 record this postseason when scoring first.

Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh were both fast teams as well and the Capitals were able to combat that with strong play in the neutral zone. The 1-3-1 trap has given opponents fits and generated a lot of odd-man breaks for the Caps. Will it be as effective against a speedy Vegas team?