Washington Post writer Dave Sheinin sat in with Harrisburg Senators radio announcer and Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations Terry Byrom for an interview in advance of Stephen Strasburg's start Tuesday afternoon against the Reading Phillies. In an article by the WaPost's Mr. Sheinin entitled, "Strasburg pitches five no-hit innings in Harrisburg win", after the Nationals' '09 No.1 overall pick pitched 5.0 scoreless and hitless against the Phillies' prospects, Mr. Sheinin quoted Phillies' closer Brad Lidge, who's down in Double-AA on rehab assignment, saying that the future Nats' ace, "...was doing everything pretty much right,":
"'It's not very often you see a guy throw that hard with that kind of command. Hopefully our hitters will figure him out after he gets called up.'"
Before the game, however, the talk was less about Strasburg's talent than the coverage he's received since he was identified as the top prospect in baseball as far back as a year before the Nationals made the then-SDSU Aztecs' right-hander their no.1 overall selection...
Terry Byrom: "Dave [Sheinin] has been following Stephen Strasburg with us for the first, I guess now, almost three weeks of the season, but longer than that, how long have you been following him?"
Dave Sheinin: "Well, he got on our radar screen some time around the summer of '08 and I remember the first time I saw him pitch was in Beijing, China of all places, at the 2008 Olympics. At that point we knew with a degree of certainty that he was going to be the no.1 draft pick the next year as long as he didn't get hurt, so we were very interested in him beginning then, and of course the following year at San Diego State I saw him a couple of times, saw him pitch in the NCAA Regionals, and he's just been the story for this franchise since June 2009 if not sooner."
Terry Byrom: "I had a call, jeez, I don't know, from FOX News Channel, and the woman, the producer that talked to me, asked me if I had gotten a lot of requests and it was a big deal, and I said, 'Well, you're calling me right, and you've never called me before,' and it's really the same thing, to have so many people following a minor league player, a minor league player before he gets to the big leagues, this is just really unprecedented?"
Dave Sheinin: "It is unprecedented, I mean, you go all the way back to the signing bonus he got, $15.1 million dollars, that was 50% higher than anyone in history had gotten. A lot of things about this kid are unprecedented, I mean you'll talk to scouts who say he's the greatest pitching prospect they've ever seen, he throws a fastball about as hard or harder than anyone in the game right now. There are superlatives with this kid, and the hype is also a function of our media generation now, where you know, it's an explosion of media. I don't need to tell you, you've probably gotten internet people, tv, radio, bloggers, newspapers, magazines, it's just an explosion of media so it exacerbates the situation even more."
Terry Byrom: "It's interesting, you and I were talking a while ago about the change in the media in general, but it really, with what's happening with Stephen Strasburg, has really highlighted some of the changes, where I get requests from people that have blog sites, I get requests from people who have online radio stations. There are a couple down in the DC and Baltimore area, and then of course, the so-called, in quotes 'mainstream media'. Everyone now has the ability to write something that people read."
Dave Sheinin: "Well, and that makes it harder on just about all of us, yourself, it makes it harder on me to compete against the din, the noise that's out there, I mean, and it makes it more difficult on Stephen. How is he supposed to know who's so-called 'legitimate', who's someone who's got an audience of 10 people and they're are all his family, and it lumps us all in with the bad apples sometimes, because one guy can ruin it for everybody, and Stephen doesn't really know who he can trust and who he can't, so he just tends to not trust anybody, and that's unfortunate, but it's just the state of the game today, and you know, he's gotta get used to that, we've got to get used to that, and you've gotta get used to that, Terry."
Terry Byrom: "Yeah, the Washington Nationals this year, have become one of the first teams, they've credentialed some people, some bloggers, and uh, it is changing and it's hard actually I think for all of us. Yourself, because, I guess in theory it's competition and for me, because, hey we want for our franchise, as much as we can get out there in the way of media coverage, but you still have to be careful. So, getting back to Stephen Strasburg, how difficult does it make it for you, somebody from the Washington Post, one of the most respected papers in the country, to be able to do what you need to do with him?
Dave Sheinin: "Well, the story itself is unique enough, and there's enough interest and there's enough going on on the periphery, where I don't necessarily need for Stephen to be as engaging as I would prefer. He's not real engaging with the media, he keeps it at an arm's distance and I understand that. Would I like him to be Drew Storen? You know, yeah I would like that..."