Passing the Test

If you are in any way like me and came of age in the 90's or are younger and happen to like retro video games then you will remember games such as Castlevania, and if you haven't played it stop reading this and go do so now. Furthermore if you only have time for one Castlevania game it should be Symphony of the Night. If you are still reading I am going to assume you have played a Castlevania game and if the only one you have played was Castlevania 64 that you are a pathetic individual. Rebuilding the rails here the point is those games were built around boss fights. Every level ended with a giant boss and for Simon or Alucard or whoever the main character was each boss presented a new challenge and had to be defeated in a unique manner.

Most of the Castlevania games, and all of the good ones, came out in a time before AI and so the boss fights were essentially giant puzzles. There was a pattern to how to win and the best Castlevania games combined the platforming and action elements of the game perfectly in its best boss fights, and every boss fight got more and more difficult. Boss fights were always filled with frustration while trying to figure out the pattern and once you did they still weren't easy. There was nothing better than the sense of relief at landing the killing blow with one bar of health left. The worst thing about all these boss fights is that you always had to do them again. Near the end of the game there was always a stage that was nothing but the previous boss fights, and that is what Stephen Strasburg overcame last evening.

All the issues that have troubled Strasburg were on display last night. He had to deal with an umpire with an inconsistent dancing amoeba strike zone, and error behind him, and a hit by pitch that nicked the jersey of the Padres player. In other words Strasburg had moments, like he has had before this season, but instead of giving in to the moment and letting it own him he owned the night. Stephen Strasburg may not have had his best stuff throwing only 68 of his 117 pitches for strikes, but he never wavered, he never lost confidence, and as the bosses he has struggled with came back to haunt him he defeated them all.  

Whether this is a turning point or not has yet to be determined. Strasburg looked great and even cracked a smile once mid-game. He got the ball back from the umpire or the catcher and threw the ball. He didn't take walks around the mound or hang his head or have any other of the mound presence issues he has displayed before. Strasburg didn't worry about the defense or the umpire or how base runners reached base. He only worried about Stephen Strasburg, and because of that he was able to overcome all those things and dominate the Padres for eight solid innings of three hit baseball. All in all a good night and a start that could get the Nationals Ace on track.

Consider what the Nationals will be if this is the beginning of a strong run for Strasburg. The Nationals are 3-6 in games Strasburg has started this season and most people expected those numbers to be reversed. If they were the Nats wouldn't be done by a half game in the division they would be up by multiple games. It is tough for a team to not have their best pitcher pitching like their best pitcher, but the Nats have depth and while Strasburg has taken his time to get himself right Jordan Zimmermann has served as the Nationals Ace. Make no mistake if this is the beginning of the return of the real Stephen Strasburg then the NL is in trouble and the Nationals are about to be a much better team. For one night in San Diego Strasburg met and defeated all his demons of 2013, and if he leaves them in the past the 2013 season may turn out as expected after all.

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