originally written for Sports Say
by Julian Spivey
I have seen Sidd Finch pitch and his real name is Stephen Strasburg.
If you haven’t heard the name Sidd Finch that’s because he’s the greatest pitcher that never ever did pitch. Finch never even breathed. In fact, Finch only lived in the vivid imagination of
great sports writer George Plimpton.
Plimpton made the story of Finch up for an April Fool’s joke in a 1985 issue of “Sports Illustrated.”
Finch was a specimen that nobody had ever seen before. He was a New York Mets prospect who pitched with only one shoe on, which happened to be a heavy hiker’s boot, and could top his pinpoint accurate fastball out at an incredible 168 MPH. Finch had trouble deciding whether he wanted to play baseball of the French horn.
Well, two weeks after the story ran it was announced that Finch was indeed a hoax, because some people out there actually believe the story. Plimpton passed away in 2003.
However, it would appear that 25 years later Finch has been resurrected in the form of 21-year old Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg.
As previously mentioned, Finch was unreal … but, I couldn’t believe my eyes last night when I saw Strasburg’s major league debut. The young Cy Young in making pitched seven innings, allowing four hits, two earned runs and struck out 14 Pittsburgh Pirates. His fast ball topped out in the triple digits, though 168 MPH is physically impossible, 100 MPH does just fine in the big leagues. And, as great as his fastball was, his curveball seemed even better. He struck out every Pirates batter at least one time and frankly made Lastings Milledge, Neil Walker and Ronny Cedeno look like little leaguers out there.
I know what you’re probably thinking now … “Well, they are the lowly Pirates.”
However, trust me when I say that Strasburg’s wicked curve would’ve made Albert Pujols, Derek Jeter and Joe Mauer look like a fool last night.
The Nationals won the game 5-2 to give Strasburg a win in his debut. His 14 strikeouts were one shy of the all time record of 15 in a major league debut set by Karl Spooner and J.R. Richards. Spooner and Richard both pitched further into the game than Strasburg did. He was moved after seven innings (one more than he was expected to go) because he had reached his pitch count. I guarantee Strasburg would’ve broken that record had he come out for just one more inning.
After all, he seemed to be just getting warmed up … he struck out the last seven batters that he faced before leaving the game.
Strasburg has already drawn comparisons to Walter Johnson, who many call the greatest pitcher to ever live. He might be Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens all wrapped into one, but he could just as easily be a bust like Kerry Woods, Mark Prior and many others.
For one night though … I can honestly say that I watched Sidd Finch … er … Stephen Strasburg thoroughly dominated his major league debut.