So it’s come and gone. One of the most highly anticipated rookie debuts in ages. And Daisuke Matsuzaka, “Dice-K”, lived up to the hype.
What makes Matsuzaka so fascinating is that he was a legend before he ever threw his first major league pitch. He has been a legend in Japan since an unbelievable run in the high-school Koshien Tournament in 1998, capped with a no-hitter in the finale. His legacy grew even greater with his MVP performance in the World Baseball Classic, which also served as his introduction to American audiences. That was followed by an epic bidding war between several Major League Baseball franchises just to have the opportunity to negotiate with Matsuzaka, with the subsequent contract negotiations with the Boston Red Sox being no less manic. The clincher? Dice-K may or may not throw a pitch which may or may not exist–and if he does, he may be the only person in the world who can throw that pitch.
That’s the stuff of which legends are made. And what does that make Matsuzaka? Quintessantially baseball.
In a review of the new director’s cut DVD of The Natural that I recently wrote for Collider.com, I discussed how that film “perfectly captures the time-transcendent mythology of baseball” and how “legendary names like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio still tower over the game years after they all stopped playing”. Baseball is all about history, mythology and legends, and Dice-K’s career to date perfectly falls into that structure.
The only real question that remains is, can he acutally throw the gyroball?