Mr. Matsuzaka? Welcome to hell, brother. For the next three or more years, every move you make, every bloop single you allow, every time you shake off Captain ‘Tek, every time allow a two-run single, Boston will be watching with crossed arms and cross statements. The town that chose you knows about failed free agents and misallocated capital. They’ve lived through the Carl Everett era, the Clemens debacle, the Fisk mismanagement, etc, etc, etc. Red Sox fans have seen what happens when promise doesn’t translate from dollars to sense. I’m hoping this won’t be the case, but be prepared for that argument, Mr. Matsuzaka. Be prepared for a million other arguments as well.
A primer, if you will: it’s not so much the clubhouse or the expectations of the front office. They’ve invested (and will be investing) quite a bit into your pitching, to be sure. It’s not so much the media—they’re happy to have new fodder, sure, but they’re just talking heads that would be angry about anything. No, it’s the fans—the hulking mass of humanity that expect their number 9 hitter to have the same average as their cleanup hitter. It’s that rabid fan base that operates roughly thirty billion sports blogs and message boards who have already extensively analyzed your pitches, calculated your efficiency and debated the merits of your pitch counts.
The money the Red Sox are willing to spend seems exorbitant for an unproven commodity. At twenty-five/twenty-six you will have to pitch in sport’s most overblown rivalry, pitch in the hardest league in baseball, and be expected to live up to the truckload of money left at your proverbial doorstep. Thankfully, we have a plan for you, Mr. Matsuzaka. This 3 step plan will ensure your sanity. It will bring you the success that other failed free agents and big risk names never had in
Step One: Completely ignore what everyone is saying.
Use the “I don’t speak any English” routine. Say you left your translator in your other pants. Run if you have to. Just don’t listen. Don’t read the papers. Stay away from the internet. Stay indoors if possible. Destroy your television. Pull a Manny/Pedro and don’t allow the press to speak to you. Francona will cover you. If he can be Manny’s Mouthpiece for three years, he can certainly do that for you as well.
Certain people adapt to the
Step Two: Always have dirt on your uniform and/or a disgusting ball cap.
Step Three: Win every single game you pitch for the next three or four years, win some World Series, three Cy Young awards and be the first to win thirty games in a season since Denny McLain in 1968.
This best case scenario is what I hope you’ll do. This way, I’ll feel justified in my favorite sports team spending an entire payroll for the rights to talk to you in a businesslike manner. You see, Mr. Matsuzaka, the typical
The only way to meet those expectations is to absolutely shatter them. Win all the time. Never lose. Be the first Red Sox pitcher to win MVP since Clemens. Be the first Cy Young Winner since Pedro. Get the gold glove Alex Gonzales and Mike Lowell deserved. Be the first since Nomar to be Rookie of the Year (stupid Verlander). Be the pitcher that $100 million makes you.
Otherwise, you’ve left a fan base with too much interest and too much anger with too much to talk about. As a Red Sox fan, I hope you live up to the hype/money. If you do, then I will be happy to have witnessed this debacle. If not—it’s like I said before: welcome to hell, Daisuke.