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A Look at Baseball’s Bright New Star, Stephen Strasburg

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DOUG JOHNSON: Welcome to American Mosaic in VOA Special English.


I’m Doug Johnson.

Today we listen to music from Gershwin Prize winner Paul McCartney…

And we answer a question about what American college students do over summer vacation.

But first, a report on baseball’s bright new star Stephen Strasburg.


Stephen Strasburg

DOUG JOHNSON: Baseball fans across America are excited about a new pitcher for the Washington Nationals named Stephen Strasburg. The twenty-one year-old throws a sharp breaking ball that cuts across the plate at the last second. He has great control of all his pitches. But what really has fans on the edge of their seats is “The Kid’s” fastball. Mario Ritter tells us more.

MARIO RITTER: Stephen Strasburg can throw a baseball more than one hundred sixty kilometers per hour. The Washington Nationals chose Strasburg with the first pick in the two thousand nine baseball draft. The team was able to do so because it was the worst team in baseball last season. But fans in Washington hope that will change this season.

Strasburg received the highest pay agreement of any rookie pitcher in baseball history. He signed a four-year deal worth more than fifteen million dollars.

The Washington Nationals announced that Strasburg would make his first major league start against the Pittsburgh Pirates on June eighth. Fans bought all the tickets within a day. Some were resold for as much as one thousand dollars.

When the time finally came for Strasburg to take the mound, he did not let fans down. In seven innings, he gave up only four hits and two earned runs against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He also set a team record by striking out fourteen batters, including the last seven he faced. Each of the nine Pirates in the lineup struck out at least once.

Strasburg was almost as exciting in his second game. He struck out eight hitters, walked five and permitted only one run last Sunday. The Nationals defeated the Cleveland Indians nine to four.

Strasburg has struck out twenty-two hitters in his first two wins. Only one major league pitcher had more strike outs in his first two appearances.

Baseball experts say Strasburg could be one of the best pitchers in many years. They are comparing him to greats like Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens.

Stephen Strasburg is expected to make his next start Friday night against the Chicago White Sox. The team is a tough match for the pitcher. They have struck out the fewest times of any major league team.


Summer for College Students

DOUG JOHNSON: This week’s listener question comes from China. Vera Tang wants to know what college students do during their summer vacation. There is no quick answer to this question. Students spend their summers in many different ways.

Many students work hard at summer jobs. They realize it can be difficult to balance college classes and a job during the school year. Summer is a good time to save up some money. Restaurants, swimming pools, stores and other businesses are always looking for hardworking students.

Nirvana Habash is from San Diego, California. She will be a senior next year at American University in Washington, D.C. She is working three jobs this summer.

NIRVANA HABASH: “I told my parents that I didn’t want them to help me with money this summer so the two main jobs, the one on campus and at the environmental consulting firm, are mainly to make money for rent and utilities and all that.”

Some students get jobs in the field they hope to enter after college. This is called an internship. Some interns receive money for their work. Other internships are unpaid. Still, the experience gives students a taste of the world outside of college. Sara Aucker is entering her junior year at American University. She is from Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. She is working for an organization that helps victims of violence at home.

SARA AUCKER: “Internships are huge. Everyone’s just trying to get a feel for what experiences they want and what they want to do in the future.”

Other college students choose to take summer classes. Students usually do not take a full set of classes. Instead, they take just one or two. The extra classes can help students to get ahead in their studies.

However, summers are not all work. Students spend time with friends, go to a movie or take a trip. David Spiegel is from Fort Worth, Texas. He will be a senior at American University in the fall. He wanted to make the most of his summer vacation.

DAVID SPIEGEL:“My friends and I have made a list of things we want to do over the summer. Different places to travel, to get away to, maybe a beach a few hours away. I’m trying to travel as much as possible and discover the city I’ve been living in for three years.”

More than anything else, summer is a much needed break. College can be stressful. Sometimes doing nothing at all is just what a student needs after studying for final exams. A relaxing day under the summer sun will help students forget all about tests and studying.

Paul McCartney


DOUG JOHNSON: Paul McCartney got his start in music before his teens. He learned to play piano and trumpet as a child. The guitar followed a short time later. He wrote one of the Beatles’ most famous songs, “When I’m Sixty-Four,” before he had even met any of the other band members.

Sixty years later, President Obama awarded the British musician the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for American Song. Faith Lapidus tells about the event and plays some of Paul McCartney’s songs.

FAITH LAPIDUS: The event was held at the White House earlier this month. President Obama praised Paul McCartney for what he called his extraordinary contributions to American music and culture. He joked: “that’s right, we stole you, Paul.” The president called Paul McCartney the most successful songwriter in history. As a member of the Beatles, he wrote hundreds of songs that changed popular music forever.

President Obama also spoke about the difficult time people in the Gulf area were going through as a result of the oil spill. He said music can help people through bad times.“Hey Jude” is a song that eases pain. Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote the song. McCartney’s words were meant to comfort Lennon’s son, Julian, during his parents’ separation.


Many people performed Paul McCartney’s songs at the White House to honor him. They included Emmylou Harris, Herbie Hancock, Corrine Bailey Rae, Dave Grohl and Stevie Wonder. Wonder received the Gershwin Prize last year. In nineteen eighty-two Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder had a hit song. Here they perform “Ebony and Ivory,” written by McCartney.


After the Beatles broke up in nineteen seventy, Paul McCartney formed another successful band, Wings. The band included his wife, Linda, who died of breast cancer in nineteen ninety-eight. We leave you with Wings performing “Let 'Em In” from nineteen seventy-six.


DOUG JOHNSON: I'm Doug Johnson. Our program was written by our Special English intern, Michael DeFabo, and Caty Weaver who was also the producer.

If you have a question about American life, send an e-mail to We might answer in on this show. Please remember to tell us your name and where you live.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.