After being “struck out” in my first attempt to tape a pre-game interview with Daisuke Matsuzaka, I dug in to the batters box and swung away and I got a hit. I sat down with Dice and his translater Masa Hoshino and chatted with the Japanese icon. We ran the first half of the interview on Thursday and we’ll run it in its’ entirety during PawSox Insider Saturday at 2:00 p.m. on the PawSox radio network. We talked about the condition of his arm after being sidelined with arm fatigue. He assured me that it was fine. He is honored to represent his home nation of Japan in events like the World Baseball Classic, although he says he does not consider himself a national hero. He is being modest, in my opinion, he says he doesn’t put himself in the same category as Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods. When asked about the “Matsuzaka Generation” in Japan (people born in Japan between April 4, 1980 and April 4, 1981) Dice laughed and said that he strives to the best, the leader of his generation. He added that living in the United States is a different experience. He has learned, to paraphrase, “to not sweat the small stuff”. Although he isn’t thrilled to be on a rehab assignment, he has enjoyed meeting his PawSox teammates. He is looking forward to rejoining the Red Sox and he said that Pebble Beach took his breath away when he had the chance to tee it up on the west coast. Although he loves golf, he conceded that he would have very little chance of beating teammate John Smoltz. Tiger Woods once characterized Smoltz as “the best amateur I’ve played with.” Matsuzaka was very thoughtful as he answered my questions and very generous with his time.
A night off in minor league baseball is a rarity. When you have one, you try to get the most bang for your buck. After the 1-0 loss on Wednesday afternoon, Dan and I went to a Middle Eastern restaurant, named “The Beirut”. Autographed photos of Jamie Farr and Gary Burghoff of M*A*S*H fame were among the celebrity pics that lined the wall to the entrance. After an appetizer of “hummus” (chick pea dip prepared with garlic, lemon and sesame oil) and “tabouli” (a salad with parsley, tomatoes, scallions, cracked wheat, lemon, oil and spices), I had my favorite meal, “Kibbee”, a meatloaf of sorts, the national dish of Lebanon. Not as tasty as my mothers’, but darn good. Hot, fresh syrian bread complimented the meal and a steaming cup of Turkish coffee finished me off. It was like a little mini-vacation to a city that was once known as “The Paris of the Middle East”. The Beirut got 2 thumbs up from Hyder and Hoard.
Interesting to see Major League umpire Rick Reed working the first 2 games of the Toledo series. The 27 year M.L. veteran is coming back from a pair of strokes, one suffered in May of 2008 and another in Febuary of 2009. Reed is among the best at his trade. He has worked World Series and All-Star games. Wishing him a full recovery.