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Dice-K Says Sayonara to Tribe, Looking for Work Again

Daisuke Matsuzaka

Daisuke MatsuzakaThings can change incredibly fast  in sports. Oftentimes it takes a familiar name in an unexpected headline to serve as a blunt reminder. In this case, it was reading the following that provided that jolt for me: Indians grant Daisuke Matsuzaka his unconditional release.

That was just one buried story among the many more prominent sports news items of the day. But, for me, it was a startling reminder of a name and a, albeit brief, legend. Matsuzaka  had been with the Tribe for the past several months pitching for the Columbus Clippers, the big club’s Triple-A affiliate. Although not setting the world on fire, Matsuzaka was posting semi-respectable numbers. Well, maybe you could argue the respectability of those stats…and I guess Dice-K decided to do just that. Arguing he’d earned the chance to show what we could do with Cleveland, particularly given the injuries to their pitching staff.

When he wasn’t given that opportunity, the former Sox hurler asked to be released in order to explore opportunities with other teams that might give him a more accelerated path back to the bigs. Fair enough. Good on the Tribe for granting that request. We shall see.

The more intriguing thing for me is recalling just how big a deal this guy was not so long ago. And, yes, injuries and pitchers fading quickly into that good night is not an uncommon occurrence, especially for a 32-year old with professional arm mileage before even coming over to this country. But did you remember DICE-K??!!!

This guys was a PHENOMENON. I didn’t recall just how big an immediate impact he had in Beantown. In 2007, he went 15-12 for Boston and finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting. He fanned 201 in 204 innings and was an integral member of a rotation that helped lead the Sawx to a World Series championship.

Year two was scary good. So much so that I had to read the line again. 18-3. 2.90 ERA. Fourth in the Cy Young (Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Francisco Rodriguez finished 1-2-3 just in case you, like me, were wondering).

And, then, just like Keyser Soze…poof, he was gone.

Well, basically. The next three years in Beantown he didn’t manage more than 25 starts, logging 8 in 2011 and an atrocious 11 in 2012 (boasting a 1-7 mark with an ERA over 8) before landing in Columbus in the International League.

Fame can be fleeting. Now, Dice-K is just another 32 year-old pitcher looking for a shot. We wish him well and give a shout-out to the glory years. Maybe he can rekindle them, if only for a start here or there, somewhere down the line.

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