The Sox (or "Sawx" if you're from around here) won this morning's season-opening tilt versus the mighty Oakland A's, thanks to a bomb from Brandon Moss in the ninth and a pair of run-scoring doubles by Manny "Bad Man" Ramirez.
I'm sure that the next 24 hours will see lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth about Dice-K and his so-so performance in the opener (5 IP, 3 R, 5 BB, 6 K, 1 HBP, Ten Zillion pitches) and how "We" overpaid for him and maybe he's just not "that good."
Umm... maybe he's human? Hello? He's pitching in Japan where he was born and raised and made his reputation, in front of thousands of screaming rabid fans, and where he is -- for lack of a better term -- a true ICON and baseball deity. How many of us have the intestinal fortitude, aka STONES, to be able to focus and be cool, calm and collected in that atmosphere with all that pressure?
Say what you want about Dice-K (and, judging from the nitwits who call into WEEI every day, you will), but the guy takes he ball every time and never gives up. Sure, I'd love to see him show that dominating streak he flashed in Japan and in the World Baseball Classic, but the guy won 15 games last season and was a key member of a World Series-winning pitching staff -- WHILE PITCHING IN A COMPLETELY FOREIGN COUNTRY AND LEARNING A WHOLE NEW CULTURE.
I think that if the situation were reversed and we sent Josh Beckett to Japan for a season with the expectations of an entire nation(s) on his back, he'd probably submit a similar resume for his first season as Dice-K. Don't get me wrong -- I love Josh Beckett and believe that his breakthrough last season was the beginning of a dominating career, one that I am excited and privileged enough to be able to see for the next few years.
But let's not forget that in his first year in Boston -- in the country of his birth, speaking the same language and watching the same TV and eating the same food -- he posted a worse overall season than Dice-K.
So lay off Matsuzaka. At best, he shakes off this morning's game and goes on to win 20 to become Randy Johnson to Beckett's Schilling... at worst, he's Ron Darling to Beckett's Doc Gooden.
Either way, the guy's good and is gonna win some games, and maybe even help the Sawx win another ring. I for one will keep watching, and keep cheering for Matsuzaka-san.