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Home » April 2007 Game CommentsApril 2007 » Make [負け]

Make [負け]

Game 8: April 11, 2007
WinMariners 3 W: Felix Hernandez (2-0) 3-2, 1 game winning streak
1-0-0 series record
Red Sox 0 L: Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-1) 4-4, 1 game losing streak
1-1-0 series record
Highlights: Not only did Matsuzaka make his Fenway Park debut, but so did phenomenon Felix Hernandez. In his two-season career, the Mariners’ right-handed pitcher has allowed just seven more home runs than his age (he turned 21 on April 8). For Jason Varitek’s birthday all he got was a $52M pitcher that weathered seven innings while surrendering 8 hits, 3 earned runs, a walk, and 4 strikeouts. “Make” (pronounced mah-kay) means “loss” in Japanese.

The light of the flashbulbs used during Matsuzaka’s first at-home mound appearance must have disrupted optical telescopes as far away as Mauna Kea.

The last time a pitching outing at Fenway was a true spectacle was June 28, 2006, when Pedro Martinez returned as a Met. As much as Schilling begs for adoration and Beckett attempts to recreate Clemens, there hasn’t yet been a starting pitcher that generates the idolization and excitement that Pedro did.

Until Daisuke Matsuzaka, that is. (Jonathan Papelbon comes extremely close, but he has gone the way of the closer.)

Not since Pedro do Boston fans willingly don gear with the flag of a foreign country. A foreign country we were at war against, no less. For all the lip service the Hub gives freedom, liberty, and opportunity, this is a city that rioted against racial integration in schools. This is a team that was the last to include an African American player on its roster.

Times have changed. On Brookline Avenue, I saw a billboard trumpeting the emergence of “The United Nations of Red Sox,” and I find myself believing in the feel-good marketing.

I’m not a Japanese citizen but my ethnic heritage is part Japanese. What people in the majority sometimes take for granted is that they can see people who look like them excel in many endeavors. It is nice to see someone that is similar to me placed in such renown. However, I questioned my motives for such feelings and wondered if ultimately they support intolerance.

While I was at the game, part of the time I found myself watching other fans that appeared to be Japanese citizens. I’m such a fan of the Red Sox and baseball, I don’t think highly of anyone that would cheer a player’s nationality above that of the team. In fact, it annoyed me that merely because of my racial appearance I would be categorized with the Matsuzaka Mania Minions.

And I realized that yes, drawing conclusions based on stereotypes is improper. Who am I to question why anyone attending the game is there? I don’t appreciate it when it is done to me, so I shouldn’t do it to others. That Golden Rule, it goes a long way.

This is why I never waved the banner of anti-pink hatism or railed against the “casual fan bitches.” To be sure it was a well-executed comedic trope by Mr. Hart Brachen, but I know it caused a backlash against women attending games being harassed just because of their fashion sense. Proving how much you love baseball based on what you wear is just an extension of having to prove how American you are or not.

I really was thinking these as I watched the game last night from loge box 125. There weren’t any primal moments of baseball being blasted into the bleaches. The event that conjured a visceral reaction was Matsuzaka’s beaning of Jose Guillen in the fourth inning. The Red Sox rookie had already struck out the first two batters of the inning, so he gifted Guillen with a bruise on his shoulder. It took chutzpah and undoubtedly earned Matsuzaka respect in the clubhouse.

That same respect should also be extended to J.D. Drew, the only member of the starting nine that was able to both make contact off a Felix Hernandez pitch while evading the wonderful glove of Jose Lopez.

Hernandez proved yet again that he is a true marvel. Against him the home team managed only three baserunners, one in the form of Drew’s hit and the two others were free passes to Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis. In his nine-inning appearance, however, the Mariner had just four strikeouts. Not to take away from the performance, but his infielders, and specifically second baseman Lopez, saved a few hits throughout the course of the evening.

I bought tickets to tonight’s game as insurance for last night’s game, just in case Matsuzaka’s first home start got juggled due to weather. If the game does get played, at least Tim Wakefield will be pitching. His brisk pace should keep up with the even brisker weather.

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