When Ted Williams arrived to manage the Washington Senators in 1969, the national media attention on the ball club increased twenty fold. Check that; coming off of a last place finish in '68, it probably was more like a hundred fold.

The end result was an 86-win season, something no one had predicted. To a man, the players all said the additional attention served as major motivation, as many achieved statistical plateaus they'd never before reached.

The Stephen Strasburg Experience -- sounds like a classic rock band, no? -- has put the Nats in the media spotlight, if only every 5 days. There hasn't been the same kind of result Williams had with the '69 club, but keep in mind that that club didn't really take off until August, and Teddy Ballgame was there all year. The Strasburg effect may still be some weeks down the road.

A caller to the Nats' postgame radio show asked recently if there was a downside to the additional attention paid to a single player. I said I didn't see an obvious one, but I put the question to Stephen's college coach, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, when the Padres were in town this past week.

"Hey, every player loves to play in front of a full house," he said. "I don't think the fact that so many of these fans are showing up for Stephen takes any of the shine off of it," adding that the extra fans are all still cheering for Washington to win.

Stephen's starts at San Diego State became happenings of their own, though not nearly on the scale of the major leagues.

"He knows what's going on," Gwynn said, "and at one point I think he was surprised by it. Now he's so focused on the job that I don't think it really affects him at all."

I asked Gwynn about Stephen's hitting, since he looks like he's got an idea at the plate. "At school, if a pitcher pitched a shutout, he was allowed to take BP," he said, "so naturally, Stephen got take more BP than the other pitchers. I'm not surprised he can put the ball in play."

Few players are so identified with a single franchise as Gwynn is with the Padres. Gwynn, like Strasburg a San Diego native, would've liked to have seen Stephen end up with the Padres, but thinks he'll do fine with the Nationals. "It's hard not to like what they've done with this club over the past year-and-a-half," he said. "I think Stephen landed in a good place."

Phil Wood is a contributor to Nats Xtra on MASN. Contact him at philwood@washingtonexaminer.com.