The San Francisco Chronicle's John Shea compared Strasburg's debut to Saint J.R.'s. And it wasn't favorable for James Rodney:
I attended J.R.'s game, and I don't recall the same type of buildup. I don't know if the Astros sold Richard jerseys long before he debuted, and I don't think Astros catcher Larry Howard threw out the first pitch of the game to keep it for posterity, as Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez did with Strasburg's first pitch. I also don't recall MLB Network being in the house.
Heck, the game wasn't even in Houston, so the Astros couldn't take advantage of the gate. It was the second game of a Sunday double-header at Candlestick Park, back on Sept. 5, 1971, and the 6-foot-8 right-hander struck out Willie Mays three times and Bobby Bonds twice as he jump-started a career in which he tormented National League hitters throughout the '70s...Yes, Richard was the bigger story, but nothing like Strasburg making the biggest-hyped debut in baseball history.