Some friendly suggestions for Matsuzaka
Daisuke Matsuzaka (right) arrived at Mass. general last night for his physical. (AP Photo)
An open letter to Daisuke Matsuzaka:
Dear, Dice-K (OK if we call you Dice-K? Or would you rather D-Mat or Dice Man?),
Welcome to Boston. Thought you might like to know a little about your new workplace. A move like this can be quite an adjustment, so we've put together a few thoughts to help you with this major transition in your professional life. These are merely suggestions. Take 'em or leave 'em.
When you stand in front of microphones at your first press conference, take a deep breath and announce, "I guess I hate the Yankees now." You don't have to mean it. You may not even understand the words. But this simple, little phrase will forever endear you to Red Sox fans around the globe.
Never make fun of employees at Burger King. All Red Sox fans are your friends.
Be wary of a large teammate with a blond mullet wearing No. 38. He will explain that he is a spokesman for all of the other players and instruct you on everything from tipping the clubhouse kids to throwing the splitter. He will show you his copious notes on all major league umpires. He will tell you which media members to trust and which ones are snakes. He will also urge you to vote Republican.
You will be impressed with your new catcher. Japanese ballplayers traditionally work harder and put in longer days than American players. You will appreciate the work ethic of Jason Varitek. He will be the best catcher you've ever had. Do everything he says. He will not tell you how to vote.
If Julio Lugo makes an error behind you, do not say, "Gonzalez would have had it."
Do not be surprised or insulted when a Spanish-speaking player wearing No. 24 greets you at spring training with, "Hey, who are you? When did we get you? Were you in Pawtucket last year? I love playing in Pawtucket." This man will turn out to be the best hitter you have ever seen.
If you don't want to learn English, we understand. In fact, it might not be a bad strategy. All you really need is one stock answer. Try "It is what it is." You will be amazed how well that works.
Do not ask for jersey No. 9. Your old No. 18 will do just fine. In fact, Sox fans will be happy to find new use for their old Johnny Damon shirts.
Feel free to tell us that Scott Boras was ready to blow up the whole deal, but you intervened and said, "I'm not a tool to help you change the posting system! I'm not a child! Just get a deal done! I want to pitch for the Red Sox in 2007. It's not about the money."
Do not buy football tickets from Fred Smerlas.
If you accidentally hit a batter and ignite a bench-clearing brawl, make sure you stand next to Wily Mo Peña during the fracas.
Demand that Tom Werner give your wife her own show on NESN. If you encounter any resistance, just tell him, "Hey, you put Michelle Damon on your network."
Never comment about carrying your bags. Never.
Tell J.D. Drew he's got to buy you dinner at least once every road trip. There's a chance he's only here because the Sox wanted to soften up your agent for your negotiations.
Explain to Theo Epstein that you do not want to sign a contract, but would be OK with a signature to memorialize an agreement.
Stand very close when you talk to John Henry. He's a notoriously low talker.
Don't feel bad for Kevin Youkilis when he's introduced at home. Those are not boos.
Remove all AM radios from your home and automobiles.
Stand near David Ortiz whenever possible. Some stardust may fall from his head to your shoulders.
Pay no attention to confusing, number-numbing reports placed at your locker if they are postmarked, "Lawrence, Kan."
Pretend you do not understand what they are saying when you hear the words "pitch count."
When you hear the words "Jimmy Fund," follow that person and do anything he or she asks. The rewards will be enormous.
Take the ball every fifth day, pitch your heart out, make no excuses, say only good things about your teammates, salute the fans, sign autographs, smile, and act like you are enjoying yourself. Let the experience of pitching for the Red Sox at Fenway Park wash over you like a soft summer rain. You're going to love it here.
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address is email@example.com.