Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Rolling the Dice-K

Every few years in baseball, there comes along a phenomenal pitcher that captures the nation's fancy.

I vaguely remember Fernando-mania in 1981, when then-rookie Fernando Valenzuela took the nation by storm, but I was caught up in the ride the young Dwight Gooden gave the Mets three years later.

The current successor to this trend is Daisuke Matsuzaka, who makes his home debut tonight (ESPN, 7 p.m.) against the Seattle Mariners. The first batter he will face? Fellow Japanese superstar Ichiro Suzuki.

After reading "Sports Illustrated's" terrific cover story and hearing of Matsuzaka's near-legendary status in his home country, I am eager to see if the man known as Dice-K is worth all of the hype. There have been many false phenoms, such as Kerry Wood of the Cubs among others, who have never lived up to their billing, but after Dice-K's 10-strikeout performance in his debut, he is looking like the real deal.

There's nothing better in baseball than when certain pitchers take the mound, and you get that sense that something special may happen when he gets the ball. Is Dice-K one of those pitchers? I can't wait to find out.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: If sports isn't your cup of tea but great drama is, then I urge to tune into the season (but hopefully not series) finale of "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 8 p.m.), TV's best-written new drama. Some viewers were turned off by the football aspect of the series, but this show has as much to do with football as "The Office" does with selling paper products. Of course, the fictional Dillon High School is going for the state title tonight, so all I can say is Go Panthers! It's followed by new episodes of "Crossing Jordan" and "Medium," which have even less to do with football.

CBS is also all-new tonight, with new installments of "Jericho," "Criminal Minds" and "CSI: NY."

"Lost" (ABC, 10 p.m.) picks up right where it left off last week, as Jack, Kate and Sayid bring Juliet to their camp. Are they going to run into a kinder, gentler Sawyer?

After continuing to burn off new episodes of its only successful new comedy "Til Death," at 8 p.m., Fox delivers the new results show on "American Idol" at 9 p.m., which will include a performance from Jennifer Lopez. For more discussion on the merits of who is left on "AI," checked out Maggie Large's music blog, Amped, on


Anonymous said...

(this is zodin2008)

I could care less about the frakking Red Sox. Since this is a Macon Blog, I would rather see you talk about Chuck James, the Braves young star, going for win #2 against trhe lowly Nats. But then again, you are a Mets fan. But why is this column suddenly a schill for ESPN, a network that blatantly only cares about the NY teams and the Red Sox--I for one and damned sick of it. There are 27 other teams in Major League Baseball.

Ok, now that that's off my chest, yes, I will definitely be watching the season finale of "Friday Night Lights" as well as "Lost" and last night's episode of "The Shield" which we haven't seen yet. Now that's 3 amazing hours of Television.

Bernie said...

"Schill"-- is that a Red Sox pun?

Phillip Ramati said...

If you don't like the Red Sox, then don't watch. Sometimes, baseball itself transcends the teams that are playing.

Anonymous said...


You are further perpetuating what ESPN wants us all to care about. I care about the Braves and no matter how much ESPN tries to force feed the same 3 teams (one of which is your team) the rest of us don't care...Matsuzaka is a great starting pitcher.

So are Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.

Phillip Ramati said...

Hey, no one wants ESPN to show the widest variety of teams more than me, but I also live in the real world and know that a New York team is going to generate better ratings than the K.C. Royals.

ESPN is hardly alone. Fox aired its upcoming baseball schedule for the month during last week's Mets-Braves game, and they are showing both the Yankees and Red Sox three times, and the Cubs twice.

Last night's game was special, with Dice-K, arguably the most written about player that few had yet to see play, making his Fenway debut against Felix Hernandez, one of baseball's best young arms. (And Hernandez demonstrated that, tossing a 1-hitter).

You're right, the networks do favor certain teams, but that doesn't mean that some of the instances they are on the air aren't worthwhile.