Getting 2 Know U (BetR thn PreVS-ly B4): Daisuke Matsuzaka

>> Wednesday

This week, MLB teams bid for the right to negotiate with superstar Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. As most baseball fans know, the Boston Red Sox bid an astounding $51.1 million to win this right. However, most baseball fans still don't much about the man that caused this bidding frenzy.

Well, we at YCS are here to help. That's why we bring you the first installment of our newest segment...

Getting 2 Know U (BetR thn PreVS-ly B4): Daisuke Matsuzaka

One of the biggest stories throughout he upcoming 2007 MLB season will be the anxiously anticipated arrival of Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. Previously a superstar for the Japanese Leauge's Seibu Lions, Matsuzaka will debut amidst a hype not seen for any foreign import since Hideki Irabu. However, after the Boston Red Sox spent more than $50 million merely for the right to negotiate Matsuzaka's contract, baseball fans hope that Matsuzaka, by comparison to Irabu, will not turn out to be so fat.

Matsuzaka, according to scouts, is a proven commodity, as well as a probable gate draw. In addition to his mitt, cleats, toothbrush, and no-more-than 40 mililiters of hand soap, Matsuzaka brings over from a Japan a reputation as an exceptionally creative pitcher. Rumored to throw nine different pitches--though some speciologists believe it to be as many as 55--his most famous creation is the fabled "gyroball," a pitch whose movement has drawn comparisons to a fatigued Bert Blyleven in RBI Baseball 2.

Matsuzaka's most dangerous pitch, however--according to Matsuzaka himself--is the makari manhiju (translated "death from the underworld"). The "makari-ball," when thrown properly, will burrow itself below the playing field--incredibly without hitting the ground--and reemerge just a few feet from the batter and cross home plate at his knees. While Matsuzaka has not mastered the pitch well enough to throw it more than once every few games, he said recently through a translator, "In my vice this pitch has yet not been tamed, but once to it I rule as master, I shall overtake many enterprises."

Like many great athletes, Matsuzaka has a remarkable, almost legendary, competetive drive. A now famous example of this spirit occurred last offseason when Matsuzaka and a close friend took a week-long trip to the North Pacific to angle for salmon. Throughout the trip, the two friends tracked their total catch to see who would come back with the larger haul. On the last day, it had become apparent to Matsuzaka that he was well behind and could not catch up. So while his friend was making a small repair in Matsuzaka's line that morning, Matsuzaka snuck up from behind and threw him off their boat, taking not only the competition but his friend's haul of salmon as well.

When told of the angling story during a recent interview, Matsuzaka's former Seibu Lions manger Tsutomu Itoh chuckled and said, "That's just Daisuke being Daisuke."

Added former teammate Hiroyuki Nakajima, "[Daisuke] brought the salmon back and shared it with us during the exhibition season, and we had sushi. Somehow, he brought 29 pounds of meat but said he only caught nine pounds of salmon.

"Wait a minute..."

During his time in Japan, Matsuzaka was also known for a lively sense of humor. Last July, the Seibu Lions held a Daisuke Matsuzaka bobblehead promotion during one of their home games. In the late innings of the game, with the Lions enjoying a 13-4 lead, Matsuzaka climbed atop the dugout steps to catch a pigeon that had been flying around the Lions' on-deck circle for much of the night as it momentarily settled on the dugout roof.

With his teammates watching in wonder, Matsuzaka then bit the head off the still-live bird and replaced it with the springy head from one of the promotional dolls. For the remainder of the game, Matsuzaka performed a hilarious ventriloquist routine with his creation, which came to be known as kaszuki johawiama, or "relief pigeon," and which would continue to entertain his teammates until it rotted.

Matsuzaka is expected to be far more reserved with the Boston Red Sox, particularly in his first few years as he adjusts to American culture, a new set of teammates, and his language gap. However, the Red Sox expect Matsuzaka's personality traits to blossom and allow him to become a fan favorite as he grows more comfortable in his new situation.

So hopefully baseball fans everywhere now know a bit more about future MLB sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka. And remember--if you hear anything that contradicts any of the facts contained in this piece, it's a damned dirty lie.


Matt 11:24 AM  

Legend states that if he had thrown his hat into the ring in WWII (he was old enough, but declined for personal philisophical reasons) today we'd all be speaking a language historians refer to as "Daisukese."

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