LADY AT THE BAT: Long Live The King, Down Goes The Moose

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Long Live The King, Down Goes The Moose

Last night, someone forgot to tell Felix Hernandez that it was the Fenway Park debut of Daisuke Matsuzaka. He did not get the memo with the subject line that read, "Dice-K vs Ichirio." He didn't know, apparently, that everyone in Japan was tuned in, waiting to see the first match up in seven years between two iconic Japanese baseball stars. King Felix ruled in Boston last night, pitching a complete game, 1 hit shutout, walking only 2 and striking out 6. The Mariners won the game 3-0.

Hernandez has been on my watch list, if you will, since I returned from a trip to Seattle almost two years ago, where I witnessed something not quite as manic as what is going on in Boston right now with Dice-K, but exciting all the same. After I blogged about this earlier this year I waited with baited breath to see how King Felix would do. After a less-than-satisfying 2006 season (by his own standards), the 21-year old lost twenty pounds over the winter, and so far in this young season, he is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA. He leads the league in strikeouts with 18. Enjoy your reign, King Felix.

Meanwhile, in Minneapolis last night, Mike Mussina strained his hamstring while pitching in the Yankees 5-1 loss to the Twins. In the 3rd inning, Mussina had just thrown his 43rd pitch when he felt a "grab" in his left hamstring. He motioned for the trainer to come out, and a minute later he was out of the game. Now, I know this could not be helped. Taking Moose out of the game was the right thing to do. It's early in the season and there is plenty of time for him to come back and help the team. But I'm not so sure if Mussina will do that. He's 38 years old and has never, in my opinion, reached his full potential. He's had the chance to win 20 games more than once in his career, and he always manages not to do it. Then there's the whole "creature of habit" thing: He has to pitch on his day only. Everything has to be just right. If the slightest thing is off for Mike Mussina, he can't pitch. When the Yankees opened in Japan a few years ago, he felt so out of his element that he did nothing but stay in his hotel room eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Rumor has it that he has no friends on the team; he stays to himself, doing crossword puzzles all the time.

If you ask me, Mike Mussina's best days were with the Baltimore Orioles. I hope he proves me to be wrong, but I don't think he will. Those moose calls at The Stadium will eventually be turning into boos.

The Lady

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