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The New, Improved Red Sox

As I scrolled through's Spring Training photo gallery from Saturday, it was obvious that the face of the Boston Red Sox has changed - and for good.

There were the normal Jason Varitek and Curt Schilling pictures thrown in, but the man who stole the show was "The Gun from the Rising Sun," Daisuke Matsuzaka; the new icon of the Red Sox.

Matsuzaka hasn't even pitched in a real game with a real Red Sox uniform on. He hasn't toed the rubber at Fenway Park. He hasn't even had his first butt slap from Terry Francona after a strong first inning. Yet he is re-defining the Red Sox as we know it.

He could be a total bust come the regular season, but Matsuzaka's presence is still going to be felt.

If you look at some of the pictures you'll see the swarming Japanese media. It's not a phase because they aren't going to back down. They'll be buzzing around the clubhouse for years. It's not a bad thing, that's for sure, it's just different. I'm not used to seeing the journalists in front of the camera but their presence is so huge that it's a story within itself.

Matsuzaka, when translated to English, means `money.' That's a lie, but that's basically what he's going to do for the Red Sox. Matsuzaka is going to bring so much money from overseas and from advertising, that the Red Sox will reap the benefits far past his time with the Sox. That could be six years or that could be 16 years. Whatever it is, the Sox will never be the like they were pre-K.

I love it. In five years, people will talk Red Sox and think Dice-K. That's how big Matsuzaka is in Boston. People will be forgetting the stars of yesteryear - Nomar, Mo, Lowe (star?) - and will be focused on only one man.

It's amazing how just one man has done this. He has changed a culture. He has changed the best sports city in America. Just one man and an arm.

It's time to watch closely, folks, because the Sox will never be the same.