On June 8, 2010, one year ago today, Nats fans were witness to perhaps the best game in the history of the Washington Nationals organization, and certainly the best non-Opening Day game. Nationals Park was standing room only, and neither the Phillies nor the Red Sox were in town. Just one thing was different: the rookie-phenom Stephen Strasburg was making his major league debut. I got chills even as I wrote that sentence, because it invokes so many vivid and exceptional memories.
From the team-record 14 strikeouts, to the home runs hit by Zimmerman, Dunn, and Willingham, to the organic "Let's Go Nats!" chants swelling across the park, it was a game that Nats fans will never forget. It was just a preview of what this town could look like once the organization puts a playoff product together.
For now, though, the Nationals and their fans just have to keep that wonderful June memory firmly planted in their heads while Strasburg continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery. It would be surprising if we saw the young star back in DC this season, as the 12 month mark wouldn't be until September 3, and this team will likely be far from competitive at that point.
But thinking about the hope generated on one evening in early-June 2010 and translating them into a full season sure can get you excited, even though many of the pieces from last year are no longer with the organization (Matt Capps, Adam Dunn, John Willingham, Nyjer Morgan, Cristian Guzman).
Just think, though. With Strasburg as the 2012 Opening Day starter, Jordan Zimmermann and a resurgent John Lannan behind him, a few strategic pitching pickups, and a healthy Zimmerman, Werth, and LaRoche at the heart of the lineup, it almost has us excited for next season before this one hits the half way mark.
In the short term (this season), we look forward to when Stephen Strasburg gets back on a mound and pitches to live batters again. For us, that will be the first thing to get the buzz going across NatsTown about Stephen Strasburg again, and that wonderful moment can't possibly come soon enough.
We'd love to reminisce with all you CapBallers out there. What are you fondest memories about the night when Baseball Jesus came to Washington for the first time?