The Baseball Desert

Thursday, March 22, 2007

"We are such teenage girls"

I had an IM chat with Beth earlier today about the man they call Dice-K, during which I finally had to face up to the truth that has been staring me in the face for the past few weeks: I have a serious baseball crush on this guy.

Last night I left work early to watch Matsuzaka pitch took some work presentations home with me in order to fine-tune them, and found myself in the unusual postion of being totally psyched for a Spring Training game. Part of it was finally being able to see the Sox live on TV as I sat in my living-room, about 6 miles from the Eiffel Tower, but mostly it was about seeing Matsuzaka.

The contrast with today's game was startling. Today I also had some work presentations that needed fine-tuning ("The Art Of The Knuckleball", amongst others). However, much as I love Wake - who, now that Trot has gone, is Mr Red Sox - there was no desperate dash to get home, no irate French drivers giving me the bras d'honneur in my rear-view mirror, no little old ladies jumping for the safety of the nearest bus shelter. I ambled in leisurely in the bottom of the second inning, and that was fine. Plenty of time to sit down, unwind and enjoy the game: both teams, the ballpark, the inane and incessant ESPN chatter, the whole shebang.

Last night, it was all Matsuzaka, all the time: What was he throwing? Is he ever going to swing the bat as a member of the Red Sox? ('Apparently not' would be the answer...). What did his catcher thinkof his stuff? How does pitching coach John Farrell see Dice-K progressing? Was that pitch the famous gyroball / changeup-with-a-screwball-action? How cool is that little 'thank you' nod he gives his teammates whenthe ball comes back from the infield after an out? How big and genuine was that grin when Tito came out, patted him on the butt and took him out of the game? The Pirates - and the game itself - were a mere sideshow, a vehicle for my growing admiration for this new phenom.

Beth - who seems to share my ridiculous enthusiasm for this guy - nailed it once in her post:
He's like the Japanese baseball answer to the Beatles. I feel like we're all watching the Spring Training equivalent of the first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show
and then nailed it again - better and even more succinctly - in our IM conversation:

me: i love dice-k's enthusiasm, his pitching, his smile
Beth: ooh you got a crush!
sok i have a crush too
me: and when he gets the ball back from the infield after an out, he kind of does a mini japanese nod
Beth: eeee we are such teenage girls

I wouldn't admit to it too often, but this time I have to plead guilty as charged.