Fenway Park, Boston, Land of the Rising Sun
April 12, 2007, 04:56 PM
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I tuned in to ESPN last night to watch the Boston Red Sox host the Seattle Mariners. This was no ordinary game; the Japanese superstar and newly minted multimillionaire Daisuke Matsuzaka was making his initial Fenway Park home start for the Red Sox. The first Mariner batter he was scheduled to face was a fellow Japanese, hitting star Ichiro.

The Fens was decked out in Japanese advertising; Japanese T-shirts were on sale everywhere. During the course of the telecast, viewers learned that Red Sox players had important Japanese phrases pasted into their mitts to better communicate with Matsuzaka. Red Sox officials, who paid $50 million for the right to merely negotiate with Matsuzaka and signed him for over $100 million, now have their business cards printed in Japanese and English.

Among the many perks for Matsuzaka are eight first class round-trips home to Japan, translators, and special chefs.

I may have missed it but I can't recall hearing that Matsuzaka was making any effort to learn English. Maybe he figures there is no need since everyone is falling all over each other to accommodate him.

For a baseball traditionalist like me, we have entered a sad era. I suspect it will not be too long before we have Hall of Famers who don't speak English.

By the way, Matsuzaka's home debut was unsuccessful. He lost to Dominican Felix Hernandez, 3-0.