BOSTON—Now that Manny Ramirez has reported to camp and the spring-training opener against Minnesota is in the books, Red Sox fans are turning their attention to the awesome power rumored to dwell within much-touted off-season pitching acquisition Daisuke Matsuzaka—a man who many say possesses pitching powers and techniques beyond the comprehension of mortal fans.
"Daisuke is the pitching master!" said Boston Globe baseball columnist Bob Ryan, hopping from one foot to the other as he described videotape footage of Matsuzaka's otherworldly pitching power and control banishing a flock of evil, conniving, left-handed-batting carp-spirits to the netherworld during a 2003 Seibu Lions game. "His Ultimate Galactic Dragon Gyroball Pitch Power Explosion breaks three feet inside before cutting sharply toward the dugout, where falsehood and cowardice are forced to shrink before it!"
Since before Boston signed Matsuzaka to a six-year, $52 million contract last November, the city's baseball fans were inundated with incredible tales of the Japanese ace's pitching prowess, many of which seemed too good to be believed. Nevertheless, most Red Sox fans find it hard to contain their excitement at the thought of finally seeing Matsuzaka's skills on display.
"Battle on, Daisuke! Wither their spirits with your mystical Four Winds Split-Finger Shottu-jitsu! Repel their cruel affronts with your Triple-Star Cut-Fastball Technique of the Joyous Uplifting Dynamo, clocked at a respectable 96 miles per hour! And baffle their comprehension and deceive in turn their deceitful hearts with your Two-Seam Shadow-Strike Clouded-Eye Shinobi Sinker!" said 44-year-old accountant and spring-training attendee Roger Fettleman, quoting the back of Matsuzaka's Red Sox rookie card almost word for word as he watched the right-hander warm up in the bullpen before his first Grapefruit League start. "Truly, it is within your grasp to go 16-4 with an ERA under 4.00!"
Fettleman is hardly alone among Boston fans in having both his spirits and his expectations raised to unusual levels by the seven-year veteran of Japan's top leagues. Besides the talk surrounding his alleged gyroball, rumors have circulated about his uncanny ability to read a batter, his cleverness in using his fastballs as his out pitches instead of over-relying on breaking balls, and his almost inexhaustible wellspring of ki, or spirit-energy.
"If what we've heard is correct, then Matsuzaka indeed possesses a Power Level of well over 9,000," said ESPN's Peter Gammons, struggling to contain his excitement on Tuesday's edition of Baseball Tonight. "Over 9,000! Which, of course, is only to be expected of the ballplayer whom sources say descended into the Underworld to spit in the flaming eye of the Lord of Hell and steal the secret power of the Onikaze, or 'demon-storm' pitch, which tails away nicely from both lefties and righties."
Despite the constant adulation and high expectations, the 27-year-old right-hander has been modest when dealing with the press.
"Boston fans are the greatest fans in the world," Matsuzaka told reporters through an interpreter upon being asked if he had left Japan out of fears that his Ultimate Galactic Dragon Gyroball Pitch Power Explosion might split Mount Fuji, strike the rising sun from the sky, and awaken the wrathful atomic lizard Gojira. "I'm very happy and excited to be a member of the Red Sox."