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Daisuke Matsuzaka may be the biggest disappointment the Red Sox have ever seen. Now thathis time is coming to an end, a look back at the expectations and hype that set us up for the all.
When you put something up on the internet, there's a good chance it's going to be there forever. For those of us who would like nothing more than to forget how obnoxious we were at 13, that can be a problem, but for history buffs, it's quite the boon. Websites will go up reflecting the sensibilities and styles of their times, and then are simply forgotten, left to collect dust and, if someone is interested, be unearthed as historic artifacts.
In 2007, with the Daisuke Matsuzaka hype in full stride, Boston.com did just that. I present to you Matsuzaka Mania. Once a shrine to the most exciting Red Sox acquisition since Curt Schilling, now a lesson as tragic as it is amusing in the perils of buying into hype free of the support of a history of major league success.
The page only covers up to Daisuke's second start. That game is perhaps the greatest part of the whole thing, though. Because with Daisuke coming with all the name recognition of a guaranteed Hall-of-Famer, his seven innings of three-run ball were enough to stun the Fenway crowd. Oh how time provides perspective.
But the real kicker comes from just exactly who he lost to that night. Because while Matsuzaka was being followed by the eyes of a nation, with advertisers like Dunkin Donuts changing the language of their signs and "an enterprising seafood restaurant" handing out Japanese Headbands outside Fenway, the Mariners' starter had no such fanfare. Described only as "a young fireballer" in the Boston.com blurb, Felix Hernandez was then just a one-time top prospect coming off of a solid if unspectacular first full season in the majors.
Six years later, and it seems ridiculous to even say Daisuke's name in the same sentence as King Felix's.
Tonight marks the end of this long frustrating saga. The end of six years of disappointment, with the last four including a healthy dose of dread whenever Matsuzaka's turn in the rotation came around. Now that it's coming to and end, though, it's a bit easier to laugh with some actual mirth about how crazy our excitement seems in retrospect.