At 7:15 PM Central Time, Michael Wacha will take the mound at Busch Stadium for the first time as he looks to extend the St. Louis Cardinals’ winning streak to 5 and complete the intrastate sweep of the Kansas City Royals. Expectations are high around St. Louis for the 2012 first round pick, with fans counting down the hours until his debut and a brutal trademark battle brewing on tumblr with a small but dedicated group claiming that hashtag #Wachamania dilutes the distinctive value of Final Fantasy X slash fan fiction hashtag #Wakkamania.
“I can’t wait to see what he can do,” said Cardinals fan Michael Wacha, who today legally changed his name in anticipation of the 21 year-old righthander’s first start. “I’m expecting to see nine, maybe ten strikeouts in the first three innings. I’d predict more, but Yadier doesn’t let enough pitches get away from him for The Big Train to really rack up the Ks in the opening third of the game.”
He later clarified that “The Big Train” was his preferred nickname for the Cardinals newest starting pitcher, after the legendary Walter Johnson.
Local businesses are also looking forward to the young pitcher’s debut. His presence is expected to create a surge in revenue, perhaps enough to make the final push for the region out of the current recession. “Tourists won’t be able to stay away,” said a representative from the office of Mayor Slay. “This is going to be like opening a new ballpark, or even acquiring a Major League Soccer team. People will come to the ballpark to see Wacha. He’s something special. I think he throws a change up.”
“This is the biggest thing to happen to this team since the Holliday trade,” one vendor told me, speaking on the condition of absolute anonymity. He is expected to get the first set of Wacha jerseys in an overnight shipment during the game tonight, and fears his competitors may target him for death if his name were to be made public. “The line is going to be around the block tonight. Everyone is going to want a #52 jersey. There is nothing like acquiring a future Hall-of-Famer to boost sales.”
Others aren’t so quick to enshrine Wacha, who has yet to throw a pitch in the Major Leagues, among the all-time greats. “We’re decades ahead of ourselves with that conversation,” said one Cardinals scout. “I wouldn’t book your ticket to Cooperstown just yet. By the time he’s eligible, I expect the Hall of Fame to be relocated to Iowa City, the birthplace of Michael Wacha.”