The first is about Daisuke Matsuzaka, or “Dice-K,” the Japanese pitcher whom the Boston Red Sox paid a king’s ransom just to talk to, and then a queen's ransom to actually sign him. The superb Sports Illustrated article explains the differences between the treatment of pitchers in Japan and in the United States. For instance, Japanese pitchers for the most part aren’t kept to a strict pitch count, whereas in the U.S., every ball a pitcher throws is counted (even when they throw to first base). Also, Dice-K doesn’t ice his arm after games, but MLB pitchers will ice their arms after doing anything from throwing a ball to reaching for a glass of water. (The writer of the piece, Tom Verducci, recently posted a little follow-up to this piece that somewhat dispels the myth of Dice-K’s “gyroball.”)
The other article is about female umpires in pro baseball. According to this Newsday article, umpire Ria Cortesio will be calling the March 29 exhibition game between the Chicago Cubs and the Arizona Diamondbacks. It’ll be the first time in 20 years that a woman has called a pro exhibition game. The article also explains how umpires rise through the ranks. Fascinating stuff about the people behind the plate calling the games.
Opening day April 1! Woo hoo!!!