None of them, though, are capable of captivating D.C. sports fans as much as Strasburg. Ovechkin, Wall and Orakpo don’t possess the potential to do as much as Strasburg could for the Nationals 30-plus times a season.
Strong starting pitching is the most important factor to success in baseball. Elite starters are paid accordingly, receiving contracts reflective of their standing in the game. If everything holds to form with Strasburg’s reconstructed elbow, he has the ability to set the standard for what’s expected of the best of the best athletes in the region.
Washington Nationals pitching ace Stephen Strasburg struck out four of the eight batters he faced Sunday in a rehab start at Class A Hagerstown. Strasburg, who had reconstructive elbow surgery last September, reached 98 mph on the radar gun. (Aug 7)
On the strength of his individual accolades and the Capitals’ regular season achievements, Ovechkin is the most successful athlete. But Major League Baseball dwarfs the NHL in mass appeal.
There’s just no comparing the size of the fan bases of each league. This isn’t Montreal or Edmonton. It’s D.C.
Wall is an extremely talented point guard. If the Wizards make the right moves around him, they could become a playoff contender during the next few seasons.
Strasburg, however, is better at what he does than Wall is in his field. Strasburg has the stuff to win Cy Young awards.
The Redskins are D.C.’s most popular team. Orakpo is a rising young linebacker. And if he were a quarterback, Strasburg possibly would drop to No. 2 on the list.
Strasburg has made only 12 big-league starts. That’s a small work sampling to stir so much confidence in his present and future.
But in those starts, Strasburg proved there was reason for the hype. Totaling 92 strikeouts in 68 innings, Strasburg showed he was ready to shoulder a lot of the load. He went from minor league phenom to the Nationals’ foundation.
Where Strasburg goes from here will, in large part, help to determine if the Nationals finally become a consistent winner.
The moment he was injured, the franchise shifted its focus to 2012. Next season, with Strasburg expected back in the rotation from the start, Nationals officials envision the ballclub pulling closer to formidable Philadelphia in the National League East.
Strasburg will soon re-experience a fishbowl existence. He’s now on a fast track back to where his stardom skyrocketed. Once he returns to D.C., he’ll start out atop the list. And the Nationals are counting on him staying there.