Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Harold Reynolds, Ken Rosenthal, George Will & Scott Boras

With the media throng surrounding the Major League Debut of Stephen Strasburg last night at Nationals Park, Sohna and I took advantage of the opportunity given to talk with a few well known faces covering this much hyped appearance. Former Major League Player Harold Reynolds--now an analyst for MLB Network is first up. To be followed by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, George Will of ABC News. And finally--a few words from Scott Boras--the agent for both Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.

With that, here we go, beginning with Harold Reynolds.

Nats320: You watched The Nationals over the past five years go through their ups and downs. How has the past 24 hours changed the opinion on this franchise?

Harold Reynolds: I think the past 24 hours has been great. Anytime you can get this much attention to one club that's not been on everyone’s radar, everyone is elevated. Just look at this, The Nationals and The Pirates are playing and the place is sold out. There is more media than a playoff game. That’s good for Washington, good for Pittsburgh and good for Major League Baseball. Obviously, Washington has been elevated to a new stage and I think it’s fantastic.

The other part of it is that they (Washington) have a good ball club. Mike Rizzo has done a good job building a good team. It’s one thing to feature your young star (Strasburg) as your future, but you have got to have some kind of cast surrounding him. Look around him and you've got a Hall Of Fame Catcher back in Pudge Rodriguez and catching him tonight. Look around the diamond and you have a young phenom at short in (Ian) Desmond. You’ve got Adam Dunn, who is going to hit 500 Home Runs. Ryan Zimmerman is a cornerstone 3rd Baseman. You have some players surrounding Strasburg that have been around the game--so it’s a pretty good thing they got going here (in Washington).

Nats320: You’ve been around the game a long time as well. So you have seen a lot of highly touted prospects come and go. Should the hype be tempered down a little bit?

Harold Reynolds: The hype is really where we are at, take it or leave it, for good or bad. You’ve got the internet, you’ve got Youtube, you’ve got text messages, you got cell phones with cameras--that’s the generation we are in. And this young man has handled it as well as anybody. To go through the scrutiny that he has gone through already--I have NEVER in the history of my time being around pro ball, or on TV, ever seen a minor league guy shown five games on a national network. Never happened. So, yeah, the hype is there, but he’s handled it extremely well.

Nats320: It is remarkable when you look back at how each minor league team sold out every start he ever made. Now, as for Washington's Number One pick yesterday, Bryce Harper, what's your reaction to him coming to D.C.?

Harold Reynolds: Well, there’s someone that touches on what we just talked about--he’s an internet sensation that was created at 15-years old. People knew who he was. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated at 16. When I was a youngster growing up, I can only liken it to when Pistol Pete (Maravich) was set to come to Corvallis, Oregon (to play basketball for LSU against Oregon State). I can’t imagine what the following of a Pistol Pete would be in today’s media driven time. We shall see. Bryce is a young kid. There is a lot of pressure on him. I think that pressure is a lot different than that of a pitcher because as a hitter you have to hit all these guys. As a pitcher, Strasburg only has to execute through nine hitters. So, it’s going to be real interesting to see what happens to Harper. But no doubt, he’s a another great talent to add to Washington’s roster.

Ken Rosenthal Of Fox Sports is next:

Ken Rosenthal: This is a team on the rise. Clearly, we have seen them in the last couple of drafts do some good things. (Drew) Storen and (Stephen) Strasburg--and Storen has to be included. And now Harper. These are big time prospects. All three are big time players that any organization can build their franchise around. And they (Washington) already have some big time players on their roster already. So they really are a team on the rise and any team like The Orioles or The Pirates that can’t get out of their way--hey, here is an example that it can be done.

Nats320: But the critics would say this team has lost 100 games two years in a row and because of that--Strasburg and Harper fell directly into their laps--choices that were no brainers?

Ken Rosenthal: Well that is the way it is suppose to work. Team’s with the worst records are suppose to end up with the best amateur players. That does not always happen because of a variety of factors that we don’t need to go into here--but the system in this particular case has worked properly. Assuming they sign Harper, which we are all confident they will--yeah they earned these picks. And they earned these players. Did they go through some rough times to get them? Yes, but that’s the way it’s suppose to work.

Just look at The Tampa Bay Rays and ask them what all those high picks taken over the years mean to them? It’s made that franchise and it’s clearly given hope here in Washington.

Nats320: And the hype?

Ken Rosenthal: It’s never going to be tempered. Of course it’s out of control. But this kid (Stephen Strasburg) would be doing very well if he accomplished what Tommy Hanson did for Atlanta last year. An 11-4 record, a 2.90 ERA in 21 starts. That would be great and yet--I can be sure--somebody will say: ‘This kid is Stephen Strasburg. He was suppose to go 15-0!!' Well, the game's not that easy. But this whole atmosphere here tonight is exciting. This has never happened before in Washington. Or, actually--forever. So, I think everyone is looking forward to it and it should be a fun night.

On to George Will from ABC News--also a season ticket holder of Our Washington Nationals:

“This is proof, among other things, that the draft is working. That it injects excitement into formally weak teams. And that’s what it ought to do. The image of the team has been changed. With Strasburg pitching tonight, coming on the heels of the choosing of another Number 1 pick in Harper--it’s gives the franchise an exciting feel. You can have a team that is bad but interesting. They had an uninteresting team last year. Now, they are becoming pretty good and getting pretty interesting. It’s again evidence that they are doing things the right way here.”

And finally--Scott Boras--talking about his client--Stephen Strasburg:

Scott Boras: When you have a combination of his talent and his intellect and his experience--because he played a very important part for his college team in California--a very tough, competitive Division One schedule for three years. This is where college baseball really prepared him to rapidly take his skills, his intellect, and his emotional handling to the next level. You ought to remember too that Stephen Strasburg was around a great major leaguer for three years (in Tony Gwynn--his coach). And because of that, the young athlete matures quicker. I think that process at San Diego State really has a lot to do with why he has been so successful so far in professional baseball.

Nats320: Do you get nervous when at debuts like this?

Scott Boras: You better believe it!! (Smiling Broadly) Always!! You don't want to see anything bad happen during a spotlight moment.

Coming up next on Nats320--A Few Minutes With The Principal Owner of Our Washington Nationals--Mark Lerner, who Sohna and I chatted with before last night's Frenzy of a game at Nationals Park.

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