Saturday, October 27, 2007

Daisuke's Last Start

This will be the final start for Daisuke Matsuzaka in the 2007 season. I'm confident that the Sox will not need 7 games to win the World Series and take the lead in the race to become the team of this new century. As I see it, the Sox opened the 20th century by winning the series in 1903, 1912, 1915, 1916, and 1918. Yes, it was 86 long and painful years until the team managed to win it again, but it will only be 3 short years between the most recent wins. The Red Sox will be the first team of the 21st century to win multiple World Series titles. There's no reason to believe that the franchise can't make a similar early century run at more championships, proving that this club is the class of the sport.

As a Yankee fan, I loathe to see the Red Sox playing in October. It makes my skin crawl. I'm no Rudy Giuliani. I know where my blood allegiances run. I'm also a baseball writer who wears his passion on his sleeve, but also wants to live in reality. The Sox collapsed in 2006 and Yankee fans rejoiced. I was not one of those Yankee fans. It scared me when the team went to Fenway and swept the Sox' season away last year. It was great in the short term, but these are not your father's Red Sox. There is a plan. It doesn't always work the way Theo wants (Drew, Lugo, Crisp), but it works more than it fails. The ownership is committed to spend. They should. With NESN and an entire region of the United States as a captive audience, the Red Sox have all the resources of the Yankees and have learned that using them may shake off the gritty, lovable underdog image that the team mired in for decades but it also makes them a champion. That's much better.

The Yankees are a team in turmoil. They'll be good every year because they spend and they've learned to build the farm aggressively. The problem is, this season is a failure on more than a baseball front. Joe Torre was one of the classiest ambassadors that the sport has seen in years. He was loved by almost every player to enter the clubhouse and the opposition as well. Papi even stuck up for Joe after the Yankees were eliminated. You have guys like Randy Levine and the Steinbrenner boys trying to figure out how to build a ballclub, if they even care about that. They strike me as bottom line first type people, where George was always a man committed to spending his money to win it all. The Sox may win multiple titles before we even get back to the Series.

That's my Yankee perspective. It's grim. For the rest of you, our there in Red Sox Nation, there is only glory ahead. One of the more disturbing turn of events from my perspective, which should make you smile, is that Matsuzaka and Okajima winning the championship will solidify the Red Sox as Japan's team. It has always been the Yankees since the days of Babe Ruth. Matsui is the darling of Yomiuri Giants fans in their 30's, 40's, 50's, and up. Matsuzaka is the darling of anyone younger and certainly every kid in the country. By winning it all, there will be a death knell for the future of the Yankees in Japan. It's all about Boston and the red, white, and blue.

When Matsuzaka came to the Sox, this wasn't how it was scripted. Yes, the World Series was in the picture, but Daisuke was supposed to be a fire-breathing dragon that helped to stand in front of the Red Sox army and lead the charge to the title. As the third starter, limping into the playoffs after a horrid end of the regular season, he's been mediocre at best. The last start against Cleveland was decent, but no one thinks Matsuzaka and 5 innings and celebrates. You want 7 innings and 10 Ks. You want a no doubt, lock down start that shuts the door on the series. I want to think we'll get that tonight, despite my allegiance to the Red Sox ultimate demise. This is the storybook ending that could shine a glimmer of hope for a better 2008 Matsuzaka. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that Daisuke find it tonight. He will rise to the occasion and throw a gem. I have no empirical support for that guess. It's probably overly optimistic, but I don't care at this point. This is likely my last pre-game post and my last Daisuke prediction. I'm going to be a cheerleader and go with the following numbers:

7 IP
7 hits
1 walk
1 run
9 Ks

The Sox will win and finish the series off in 4 or 5 games. I'll be back when they do to put the cherry on top of the Matsuzaka Watch sundae. Thank you for following this interesting story for the last 2 years. It's been a great ride. Go Daisuke.

10 Comments:

At 5:59 AM, Anonymous DaisukeM18 said...

Game 2 was a rather impressive showing for Hideki Okajima. He also pitched 2 innings in relief for Daisuke in game 7 against the Indians.

He's been untouchable in the playoffs and has been Francona's go to guy in the pen after the starters leave.

During the beginning of the season you said that fans who knew him in Japan didn't think his dominance would last.

I'm wondering how they feel now, after seeing Okajima dominating in the playoffs and proving that his early success wasn't a fluke.

 
At 6:25 AM, Blogger miz said...

hey mike,

just wanted to thank you again for this blog.

as a japanese-american in the u.s., it's hard to get good coverage or commentary on japanese players in the mlb.

over the past year, it's been a morning tradition every few days to go to your blog to read your analysis and color commentary on matsuzaka, baseball, and japan.

it's been fun, a journey and a learning experience. i will check out your other blogs.

best of luck to you! and go dice-k!

peace,

miz

 
At 7:00 AM, Anonymous Jimbo said...

Mike thank you very much for sticking with the bog even after the Red Sox won the posting. I followed the Dice K posting from the early off season and was thrilled to find a blog that was so extensive adn informative. I remain oen fo the few peopel I knwo that thinks Dice will go out and dominate on any given night and I think this game in Colorado will be a testament to that. Thanks again and good luck to you but unfortunately i can't wish good luck onto the Yankees.

Go Dice

 
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At 9:35 AM, Anonymous Daisuke K 2008 said...

Mike,

During the Indians game, the commentator on FOX SPORTS flat out said that Matsuzaka threw two gyroballs, calling them essentially glorified screwballs. What do you think?

Also, fantastic work on this blog, man. It pains me that you're leaving it!

 
At 9:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Mike.

First off, thank you for this blog. Best Daisuke source on the planet.

With that said, the FOX commentators flat out said that Matsuzaka threw the gyroball (twice) and that it was a glorified screwball.

Any thoughts on this?

 
At 10:46 PM, Blogger Mike Plugh said...

I think it's possible that he threw the "gyroball", and I saw a couple of slow-mo replays that looked like a "gyroball". The thing is, I don't think it's that revolutionary a pitch. It's not all that different than a screwball or a variation on a slider. It's mainly a different rotation on the ball and less stress on the elbow.

 
At 12:43 AM, Blogger lostinube said...

Mike,
Let me echo the others thanks for your coverage of Daisuke's first season in the states.
I wonder how the ratings will be for tomorrow's game as it will be a Sunday morning in Japan and the game will be broadcast on both BS-1 (from 9, which means sitting around watching the players warm up) and on regular NHK (from 10). The first two games were only on BS-1.

 
At 5:10 AM, Blogger Joseph said...

Mike,

Dice-K projections aside, I have to disagree with you on the Yankees-Red Sox teams going into the future. They are essentially the same team with similar management.

Managers-There had been a lot of talk about replacing Francona, even after his WS win just like Joe. Theo fought to keep him around while the principle partners, who dubbed him "Francoma", wanted him out. Very similar to Joe and Cashman in NY. The fact that the Red Sox will likely win another WS just figures into keeping Francona around where Torre got the boot. If you believe in the idea that managing only affects wins marginally, the Yankees will be fine with Girardi or Matty next year.

Free Agency-They are both big spenders and sometimes it works, and other times it doesn't. As you said, Theo doesn't always hit on big signings, just as Brian doesn't either. The big thing with Boston is they are lucky Papi panned out as well as he did and Lowell somehow turned his career around. You might remember Boston didn't want him included in the Beckett deal, but that was the only way Florida would trade him.

Farm-This is where they most closely mirror each other. Both teams have been commited to development in recent years. The Yankees aren't short on pitching prospects, even excluding Joba and Phil, with Boston certainly in that same boat. The Yankees have many high ceiling guys, like Betances and Brackman, along with many hole pluggers. With Cashman more comfortably in control of the baseball side of things, they aren't likely to shift in this focus.

So why are they so different? Ask some flies in game 3. Or maybe Joe for starting Wang on 3 days rest. If they had advanced past Cle, it would have likely been a 7 game brawl with Boston and people wouldn't be questioning the future of the franchise.

As a writer, I'm surprised you have such a grim outlook on your team. I'm not trying to pick a fight, I'm just wondering why you're so down on them. Past Beckett and quite possibly a resurgent Dice-K, Boston doesn't have any sure fire SP unless you count a rookie Bucholz as a finished product.

 
At 9:16 AM, Blogger Wayne said...

Given that the Rockies have shown they can't catch up to 96+ MPH heat (see Beckett, Josh and Papelbon, Jonathan) and they aren't very comfortable in the spotlight (one hit from the one, two, eight, and nine hitters combined) I think Daisuke could dominate tonight. However, the thin air, the crowd behind the Rockies, and the fact that Daisuke is topping out around 93 MPH could spell trouble. I'm expecting a solid, but not spectacular outing.

6 IP
5 H
3 ER
5 K
2 BB

I think the Sox offense gets Daisuke the win.


Once again, thanks for blogging, Mike. Good luck in the future.

 

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