After yesterday's bizarre events surrounding Daisuke Matsuzaka, how many poor Japanese fans do you think are going to line up for their official Red Sox Nation membership cards?
Yesterday -- as cameramen and reporters scrambled to Hanscom Air Force Base, Fenway Park, and Mass. General Hospital in hopes of documenting the latest chapter in what has officially become Matsuzaka Mania -- it was conceivable that Allen Iverson could have been dealt to the Celtics, and the story would have landed like a tree in the woods that no one was around to hear.
Not that they ever really went away, for any distinguished period of time at least, but after their bummer of a season the Red Sox are back in dominant media hog fashion, after giving the Patriots a good couple of months to play the top fiddle in town.
They're more than New England's favorite team. They're our annual offseason soap opera.
The question of whether Matsuzaka can handle the media attention in Boston is a moot point from here on out. The bigger concern is, can the Boston media handle the influx of Japanese reporters that are about to invade? Matsuzaka landed last night at Hanscom amid a bevy of media personnel, many of them Japanese. Come summertime, the tiny Fenway press box might start to sink from the influx of Matsuzaka's countrymen and women who are in Boston to document his every move. When Hideki Matsui's entourage shows up with the Yankees, forget about it.
The week the Red Sox won the posting fee process, the Globe sports room was teeming with Japanese-speaking reporters, looking for each and every American comment they could beam back home as to how their national hero's potential welcome was being treated in a city known to have a notoriously dubious media corps. The Red Sox might have to hold today's press conference officially introducing Matsuzaka in the Fenway bleachers in order to accommodate everyone.
You thought coverage of the Red Sox was wild and overbearing before, the past is going to be reminiscent of a Boston Cannons game recap compared to what's on tap with Matsuzaka-san on the team. Now that Keith Foulke is gone though, that kicks the door wide-open to predict which player blows his lid first in the too-close-for-comfort clubhouse.
We're all of a sudden back to the days when the Patriots used to toss up their hands wondering why there were five times more media members at 1 Yawkey Way than at 1 Patriot Place. Even during the Patsí Super Bowl runs, interest in the Red Sox was THE story in town. Whether it was placing Manny Ramirez on irrevocable waivers, the pursuit of Alex Rodriguez, the Curt Schilling Thanksgiving dinner, the Theo Epstein resignation, or the World Series trophy's journey throughout the region.
Interest has always been high in the winter, of course, but in recent years the hype has reached a decibel level that can now be heard all the way to the Far East. The ability to track the flight path of John Henry's plane and pinpoint Matsuzaka's arrival yesterday afternoon was such an over-the-top development in the media world that we really had no choice but to embrace it in all its outlandishness.
Today, it's come to this: Analyzing Daisuke Matsuzaka's blood type.
The New York Times reports that the most revealing stat not widely known about Matsuzaka in America might be his blood type, Type O.
"In Japan, using blood type to predict a person's character is as common as going to McDonald's and ordering a teriyaki burger," David Picker writes. "The association is akin to the equally unscientific use of astrological signs by Americans to predict behavior, only more popular. It is widely believed that more than 90 percent of Japanese know their blood type."
By Japanese standards, Type O makes him akin to a warrior. The good news: it's a blood type shared by Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui. The bad: Kazuo Matsui of the Rockies has Type O as well, and while he's been called lots of names in New York and Colorado, "warrior" has hardly been one of them.
Look, it's admittedly ridiculous, and frankly I'm not quite sure how it all translates to those not ingrained with the knowledge that this is what you get with the Olde Towne Team. But we're talking a fanatic appetite the size of your average Old Country Buffet customer that just went global. Just when you think things will die down to a simmer finally, the Red Sox know what will spark interest up again.
The Red Sox regime knew this coming into everything four years ago. Dr. Charles Steinberg and Co. knew what the potential was here for an already-dedicated fan base, salivating over any little tidbit of Red Sox lore. The height of their show-stopping antics of course had to be the Doug Mirabelli police escort last May. It's a 24-hour, 365 day-a-year public relations machine over there, and we fall for it hook, line, and sinker every single time.
But hey, it's all worked. Instead of an offseason interest in the Red Sox, there is now an insatiable offseason interest, a Hot Stove season that gets bantered about more than your playoff-bound football team. That's the way it is, and once the other franchises, media, and the fans own up to it, the less bitter about lack of attention everybody else can be.
Oh, Matsuzaka Mania will die down somewhat after today, at least until spring training, and then there will be something new to banter about at the water cooler. And the Japanese media that are still in town might not have the foggiest of what to make of the next big move on Yawkey Way.
I mean, how could that 44-year-old guy be a bigger story than Matsuzaka-san?
Would the Sox dare decide to announce the signing of Roger Clemens on, oh, let's say Super Bowl weekend? Heck, why not. It's not like they still wouldn't dominate the headlines.