Which Media?Hello Matsuzaka True-Believers. It seems that Spring Training has begun in earnest and the big boys are out to get ready for the long season ahead. I say big boys because we saw Curt Schilling show up in his full off-season glory, and many fans unfamiliar with Matsuzaka were surprised to see him sporting quite a nice spare tire as well. I can't speak to Schilling, as he generally pitches with a hefty front section, but Daisuke may have been enjoying LA more than he was working out. Nevertheless, I expect you'll see him ramp up his training and get into decent shape by Opening Day. His high school coach told an ESPN reporter that he was mainly concerned about Matsuzaka's conditioning going to the States because he can get lax if someone isn't on his case riding him to stay fit. Keep an eye on it.
This post is mainly about the media issue. It's interesting to me that people are still surprised at the amount of Japanese media that follow these players around. I thought this was common knowledge. A lot of major media outlets are reporting the media throng over and over as if it were an invasion of aliens. Yes, the Japanese media is serious. Yes, they are fanatics about their athletes on the international stage. The interesting irony of all this, to me, is the fact that Japan has no "All Sports" network that covers athletics 24 hours a day like ESPN, for example. Who is more ravenous? Take this screencap from CNNSI.com, for example.
Don't get me wrong. I'm a CNNSI fan. I like many of their writers. Read the caption under Matsuzaka's picture. It says:
Every time Daisuke Matsuzaka so much as stretches at Red Sox spring training camp in Fort Myers, Fla., dozens of Japanese media will be there to capture the moment.
Japanese media will be there to capture the moment? That's an AP photo posted at CNNSI.com! Not only that, but in addition to the photo and caption, Matsuzaka's name appears two more times in the main headline section. One of those lines says, "Matsuzaka arrives at Sox Camp" and has a video link!! I know the Japanese media is fun to play on. It's hilarious to see 50 Japanese men and women with cameras and mics huddled together in a wild pack chasing after an athlete, but let's keep some perspective. This is a lot of fun, isn't it. Wait until he pitches against Boston College and the Marlins...his first scheduled outings. He'll face BC for about 2 innings on March 2nd, the Marlins for a bit longer on the 6th (I believe), and it has been announced that he will debut in the regular season at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City against the Royals on April 5th.