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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Ex-major leaguer Matsuzaka walks away from baseball with love for game

Former Boston Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka said Tuesday he is glad he can end his 23-year baseball career still loving the game.

The 41-year-old seven-time Japanese Golden Glove winner pitched one last time for the Seibu Lions, the Pacific League club where he started his career at age 18, at MetLife Dome on Tuesday night.

He took the mound against the Nippon Ham Fighters wearing No. 18, the “ace number” he wore in 1999 when he turned pro straight out of Yokohama High School….

Matsuzaka announced his retirement on July 7 after failing to recover from a cervical spine surgery last year. Before he signed with Seibu for the 2020 season, he was with the Central League’s Chunichi Dragons for two years and saw minimal action in 2019.

In discussing his decision to retire on Tuesday, Matsuzaka said he began setting things in motion after a bullpen session in late April, during which he nearly hit a batter in the head with a pitch.

Numbness in his right hand following the surgery had left him “scared of throwing balls,” he said. “I thought to myself, ‘I can’t throw anymore. I have to quit.’”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 19, 2021 at 10:46 AM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: daisuke matsuzaka, japanese baseball

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   1. villageidiom Posted: October 19, 2021 at 11:28 AM (#6047406)
Facing the Fighters' leadoff batter Kensuke Kondo, Matsuzaka threw a strike with his second pitch before issuing a walk on five pitches and making way for Ken Togame. He clocked 118 kilometers per hour with his fastest pitch of the night.
If they brought him to Fenway to throw out a ceremonial first pitch, and I were there, I would definitely cheer him. He never lived up to the hype, but that was a problem with the hype because he was genuinely good.
   2. Jose Has Absurd Goosebump Arms Posted: October 19, 2021 at 11:34 AM (#6047411)
Yeah, if he doesn't get hurt after 2008 it would have been curious to see how his career panned out. 126 ERA+, winning pitcher in game seven of the ALCS and game three of the World Series, dude did a good job those first couple of years for the Sox.
   3. Darren Posted: October 19, 2021 at 11:56 AM (#6047413)
Never made an All-Star game, which surprises me. I would have thought that he would have gotten one in either 2007 or 2008.

Seems like a perfectly fine dude who loved baseball. But man, he really put viewers to the test in separating your feelings for him and your feelings for watching him pitch. Even when he was pitching pretty well, every batter was torture, innings were endless, and walks abounded.

Yeah, if he doesn't get hurt after 2008 it would have been curious to see how his career panned out. 126 ERA+


I don't really remember seeing some sea change after the injury (my memory sucks though). By 2008, his control issues were already present but he somehow (luck? skill?) kept his ERA low. The injury basically wiped away 2009, but his 2010 was very similar to his 2008 in terms of peripherals and innings, and the results were okay too (93 ERA+).

Overall, a really good pitcher for a couple of years, contributor to a championship team, and an interesting story. Good enough.

For those interested, his final numbers (from Baseball Reference):

NPB: 114-65, 3.04 ERA, 1,464.1 IP, 1,229 H, 1,410 K, 538 BB, 117 HR.
MLB: 56-43, 4.45 ERA, 790.1 IP, 721 H, 720 K, 387 BB, 85 HR, 9.4 WAR, 4.35 FIP.

   4. Rough Carrigan Posted: October 19, 2021 at 01:38 PM (#6047466)
#3. Yeah, back circa 2008-2010, I remember a buddy and I talking to a couple of ushers before a game on a really hot day and they were grateful that Daisuke wasn't pitching that day. His games were long even for the Red Sox of the time.
   5. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: October 19, 2021 at 01:53 PM (#6047468)
But man, he really put viewers to the test in separating your feelings for him and your feelings for watching him pitch. Even when he was pitching pretty well, every batter was torture, innings were endless, and walks abounded.


I don't think there's ever been a player who I found more irritating to watch, despite the fact that he was quite good for a while there. I think the most frustrating thing was that it seemed like he had the stuff to challenge guys more, cut down on the walks, and MOVE THE EFFING INNING ALONG. I was dazzled by his first start (7 innings, 10 Ks, just the one walk), and with every subsequent pitch he threw he annoyed me a little more. And then he got hurt and was never the same again.

Anyway, I'm glad he enjoyed his career, and he did give the Red Sox some pretty good innings for a couple of years. But ye gods, I have flashbacks to grinding my teeth while he pitched.
   6. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: October 19, 2021 at 01:55 PM (#6047470)
Wasn't there a rumor before he debuted that he threw some special, secret Japanese-style pitch that nobody stateside threw? The shuuto or something.
   7. cookiedabookie Posted: October 19, 2021 at 02:15 PM (#6047482)
Wasn't there a rumor before he debuted that he threw some special, secret Japanese-style pitch that nobody stateside threw? The shuuto or something.

The gyro ball
   8. Rally Posted: October 19, 2021 at 02:46 PM (#6047490)
Facing the Fighters' leadoff batter Kensuke Kondo, Matsuzaka threw a strike with his second pitch before issuing a walk on five pitches and making way for Ken Togame. He clocked 118 kilometers per hour with his fastest pitch of the night.


Still bringing the heat. (Checks google) That only works out to 73 MPH. He must be in some serious pain if that’s all a pro pitcher can manage. I hope he’s able to get past the physical issues and enjoy his retirement.
   9. vortex of dissipation Posted: October 19, 2021 at 05:22 PM (#6047539)
Still bringing the heat. (Checks google) That only works out to 73 MPH. He must be in some serious pain if that’s all a pro pitcher can manage.


This was his first, and only, NPB appearance of the year. As the article notes, he had decided in July to retire after failing to recover from surgery. It's very common in Japan to allow star pitchers to pitch to one last batter in a game situation when they've decided to retire. That's much more of a thing that is done in Japan than here, and it's just a way of letting the pitcher have one last hurrah in front of a crowd, and to allow the fans to show their appreciation.
   10. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: October 19, 2021 at 05:41 PM (#6047542)
Oh the nibbling! He had electric stuff and sometimes he would just nibble and nibble and nibble. I'd be screaming at the TV, c'mon man, throw some effing strikes!

However a good guy to root for and overall gave the Sox some pretty special stuff.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: October 19, 2021 at 05:54 PM (#6047544)
The gyro ball

Yeah, turned out tzatziki sauce is a foreign substance.
   12. Howie Menckel Posted: October 19, 2021 at 05:59 PM (#6047547)
It's very common in Japan to allow star pitchers to pitch to one last batter in a game situation when they've decided to retire. That's much more of a thing that is done in Japan than here, and it's just a way of letting the pitcher have one last hurrah in front of a crowd, and to allow the fans to show their appreciation.

David Wright spent more than a year doing intensive rehab to try to fix what ailed his sore back.

it didn't quite work, but the Mets activated him for the final weekend of the season and announced he would start Game 161. think it wound up as a sellout (also Fireworks Night which didn't hurt). Wright looked like the happiest man on the face of the Earth, taking grounders, batting practice, taking grounders - just like old times. almost.

he had his wife and two daughters on the field for the ceremonial first pitch. the atmosphere was as electric as a postseason game.

Wright and Jose Reyes I believe have the most games played together in Mets history, and they put Reyes at short until the fifth inning. then he and Reyes hugged, and Wright began a walkoff tour that practically rivaled Ripken's. Wright has never seemed all that vain - he just was awash in the crowd admiration, and nobody wanted it to end. a glorious goodbye. there should be more of them when possible.

on the other end: the player (in every sport) who signs a lame 1-day contract so he could "retire as a [insert main team here]." yeah, look up your -reference.com page, year-by-year stats. no.

does anybody care? I don't get that one, at all.
   13. Jay Seaver Posted: October 19, 2021 at 06:17 PM (#6047551)
12 - I get the "retire as..." thing in theory; if that's the team you feel most connected to even though you've spent a few years playing for whoever will sign you, it's got to feel like a pretty satisfying way to say goodbye. I knew it was silly when Nomar showed up at Red Sox spring training for a few days in 2010, and kind of suspected it was a matter of him and his agent thinking he'd have more opportunities in his post-playing career if he reset his image as "Red Sox legend" rather than "frequently injured guy who played for four teams", but it felt pretty good.

I think it's in large part about that reset most of the time, but that doesn't make it less real for the people who respond to it, and this is entertainment. A few calculated bits of emotion are okay amid the semi-randomness of games being played.
   14. Zach Posted: October 19, 2021 at 07:04 PM (#6047562)
Wasn't there a rumor before he debuted that he threw some special, secret Japanese-style pitch that nobody stateside threw? The shuuto or something.

The greatest trick the demon mystery pitch ever played was convincing the world it existed.
   15. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: October 19, 2021 at 07:27 PM (#6047567)
That only works out to 73 MPH. He must be in some serious pain if that’s all a pro pitcher can manage.


There was a kid in my little league who was clocked at 75 at the age of twelve. I still remember his name: Michael Kirchman. God, we were all terrified of him.
   16. villageidiom Posted: October 20, 2021 at 10:00 AM (#6047734)
The greatest trick the demon mystery pitch ever played was convincing the world it existed.
I mean, Will Carroll was convinced. Everyone else was kind of curious to see if it existed.
   17. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 20, 2021 at 11:26 AM (#6047762)
It's very common in Japan to allow star pitchers to pitch to one last batter in a game situation when they've decided to retire.

Six years after he retired in 1941, Dizzy Dean stepped out of the broadcasting booth to pitch a single game for the St. Louis Browns. According to Wiki, here's how it went:
Dean made a one-game comeback on September 28, 1947. After retiring as a player, the still-popular Dean was hired as a broadcaster by the perennially cash-poor Browns to drum up some badly needed publicity. After broadcasting several poor pitching performances in a row, he grew frustrated, saying on the air, "Doggone it, I can pitch better than nine out of the ten guys on this staff!" The wives of the Browns pitchers complained, and management, needing to sell tickets somehow, took him up on his offer and had him pitch the last game of the season versus the Chicago White Sox. At age 37, Dean pitched four innings, allowing no runs, and rapped a single in his only at-bat. Rounding first base, he pulled his hamstring. Returning to the broadcast booth at the end of the game, he said, "I said I can pitch better than nine of the ten guys on the staff, and I can. But I'm done. Talking's my game now, and I'm just glad that muscle I pulled wasn't in my throat."

And then of course there's Minnie Minoso, who retired in 1964 but came back in 1976 and 1980 in order to become the first "5 decade" player. Naturally in both cases the White Sox owner was Bill Veeck.
   18. Howie Menckel Posted: October 20, 2021 at 11:58 AM (#6047773)
Babe Ruth famously stopped pitching in MLB after 1919 - except for five games:
1 in 1920
2 in 1921
1 in 1930
1 in 1933

The Bambino won all five games!

but.. he also allowed 19 ER in 31 IP.

1920 - June 1, Game 39, Ruth starts and allows 2 ER in 4 IP but still gets credit for the 14-7 win.

1921 - June 13, Game 53, Ruth allows 3 ER in 5 IP but earns a 13-8 win.
1921 - Oct 1, Game 152, Ruth comes in the 8th inning to protect a 6-0 lead - and quickly allows 6 runs to score to tie it. but Ruth then pitched a scoreless 9th, 10th, and 11th and gets the 7-6 win.

1930 - Sept 28, Game 154, Ruth scatters 11 hits and 3 walks for 2 ER in a complete-game 9-3 win (Lou Gehrig replaced Ruth in LF. game time of 1 hour, 40 minutes #crossthread).

1933 - Oct 1, Game 152, Ruth scatters 12 hits and 3 walks in a complete-game 6-5 win (after nearly squandering another 6-0 lead. game time of 1 hour, 38 minutes).
   19. Nasty Nate Posted: October 20, 2021 at 12:12 PM (#6047776)
I was also frustrated by Matsuzaka's nibbling at the time. But looking back, I think he was just wild.
   20. Posada Posse Posted: October 20, 2021 at 11:42 PM (#6048015)
1921 - Oct 1, Game 152, Ruth comes in the 8th inning to protect a 6-0 lead - and quickly allows 6 runs to score to tie it. but Ruth then pitched a scoreless 9th, 10th, and 11th and gets the 7-6 win.


I read somewhere that Waite Hoyt claimed that Ruth cost him his first 20 game winning season by vulturing this win in spectacular fashion. Great story, except that Hoyt for some reason only pitched the first four innings as a starter in this game. Hoyt finished 19-13 in 1921.
   21. Howie Menckel Posted: October 21, 2021 at 12:35 AM (#6048020)
hmm, Posada Post 20.

note that The Babe got a win a year earlier while starting and pitching only 4 innings. musta been the rule back then.

so you might be onto something interesting.

some of the background out there has Ruth lobbing the ball late in some of these games and absorbing the brunt of the damage.
   22. vortex of dissipation Posted: October 21, 2021 at 04:52 AM (#6048024)
note that The Babe got a win a year earlier while starting and pitching only 4 innings. musta been the rule back then.


Yes, the rule that the starter has to pitch five innings (in a nine-inning game) to be eligible to get the win wasn't adopted until 1950.
   23. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: October 21, 2021 at 09:22 AM (#6048042)
MetLife Dome

For a second, I thought they had put a roof on the Giants/Jets stadium in NJ...which they apparently actually considered (so it could host Final Fours and such), but decided it was too expensive.
   24. John DiFool2 Posted: October 21, 2021 at 09:23 AM (#6048044)

There was a kid in my little league who was clocked at 75 at the age of twelve. I still remember his name: Michael Kirchman. God, we were all terrified of him
.

Funny how a lot of these phenoms never make it, either peaking too early or busting something.

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