Rookies: When The Kid Is For Real

Stephen Strasburg is the real fucking deal. With the amount of hype this kid came in with and the expectations placed on this young man, somehow, he exceeds them all. Strasburg threw 7 sparkling innings and got tagged just once for a two run shot. Apart from that mistake he was dominant. Strasburg was wheeling and dealing, showing his accuracy and his arm strength, in the process he struck out a ridiculous 14 batters in his rookie debut. Fourteen strikeouts is a career high for many pitchers, many good pitchers at that, this kid had that many in his debut. Read more.

This performance prompted me to think of other ballyhooed athlete’s debuts, but there are very few athletes that have come in with as much hype as Strasburg. Lebron James comes to mind. Lebron’s opening day was just as hyped. By all accounts Lebron James also exceeded expectation in his debut against the Sacramento Kings. In fact Lebron James balled the hell out on his first day on the stage. Lebron dropped 25 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 steals, and he shot 60% from the floor. And he sold a hot dog and bought a guy in the first row a beer. Shit, he might as well have.

In hockey you can’t really tell what someone is going to be by their first game’s statistics, or can you? Sidney Crosby was one of the most highly touted draft picks ever and in his first game he registered an assist on his team’s first goal of the season. It would be a harbinger of things to come, Crosby went on to break franchise records in assists at 63 and in he would also record 102 points, breaking another rookie franchise record, those records had belonged to Mario Lemieux.

Those hockey superstars don’t mess around. Alexander Ovechkin is another hyped player didn’t disappoint. In his first game the lightning fast Russian sniper tallied two goals in a 3-2 victory for the Washington Capitals. Ovechkin went on to destroy the league that year and lead all rookies with 106 points and 52 goals, which is bananas for a rookie.

Football is another one of those sports where you can’t tell what a player is going to be from his first game’s statistics, but you knew Randy Moss was going to be great. He didn’t disappoint either and he still holds the record for the most touch down receptions as a rookie at 17. We all know how great he turned out to be.

It’s rare when athletes are able to take it to a level never seen before and exceed lofty expectations. You love to see it because it’s the story of a natural, a kid who was born to do it, and if Strasburg can keep his head straight through all the distractions, that kid looks like he might be better than advertised, if that’s even possible. History has shown that it is.