Daisuke's Last StartThis 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:
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.