Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It Is Unclear if Strasburg is 'Nuclear'

A piece on today compares the hype surrounding Stephen Strasburg's nascent career to other media circus events in baseball history, such as the Sosa-McGwire home run derby of 1998 and Doc Gooden's unforgettable rookie campaign in 1984.

Fireballer Kerry Wood is also included on the list, after he struck out 20--while walking none and allowing one hit--in his fifth career start back in 1998. Here at Batter Chatter (not to be confused with '80s snack food Better Cheddar), we like to detail how various baseball terms pop up and catch on.

Jerry Crasnick's ESPN story suggests that the term "electric", as in a pitcher having an electric fastball, was hatched around the same time Kerry Wood's arm was trouble-free and he was mowing down every hitter in his path.

"There's a new term being used in baseball these days: electric," veteran scout Gordon Lakey said that season. "Like, 'This guy has an electric fastball' or 'This guy has an electric curveball.' Well, this guy ain't electric. He's nuclear."

It doesn't seem as though "nuclear" ever caught on. Maybe it's because the word calls to mind bombs and the utter annhilation of nations, or because it's hard to say--hey, no lighter luminary than our 43rd president had lots of difficulty saying "nuclear."

Unfortunately, Kerry Wood, with a Pavano-esque knack for injuries both mundane and bizarre--the guy once was injured climbing out of a hot tub--didn't stay "nuclear" for long. Sadly, Wood--who turns 33 today, as luck would have it--is hardly even "electric" anymore.


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