Matsui Mania Officially Begins In A’s Land
For a guy who
hasn’t even picked up a bat or thrown a ball yet, Hideki
Matsui is already
creating quite a stir in the desert.
This morning, the A’s new slugger arrived at the team’s Papago Park
minor league complex to shoot a commercial for Japanese television. The commercial is for Komatsu, a
Japanese-based construction company which used to employ Hideki’s father, Masao
Matsui, for 23
years. Ted Polakowski, our director of minor league
operations, and I looked on with amazement as a small village of people and
vehicles descended on the Papago complex this morning. Equipment and food trucks, Winnebagos–even an
industrial forklift–and catering tents served as a backdrop to dozens of local
Little Leaguers who joined Matsui-san on one of the baseball fields for
filming. However, by early afternoon,
the rains and winds came, and the shoot was cut short.
day was far from over. With the help of
his long-time PR aide, former Japanese sportswriter Isao
Hirooka, we then made
Matsui available for his Spring Training debut to both the Bay Area and
Japanese media. First, there were rows
and rows of Japanese photographers, lined neatly in a small space on the patio
outside the Papago administrative building.
Clearly, Matsui is a real pro who has posed for these “photo ops”
countless times. Under bright lighting
and in full Oakland uniform, he waggled his bat, smiled for the cameras and
took a few swings. Then he switched to
his glove, pounding the pocket and striking a different pose. I kept thinking, “man, this guy is a real pro.” Then once the photographers were satisfied,
Matsui seamlessly moved over to one of the picnic tables on the patio. He sat down and spoke to the Bay Area media
through an interpreter. He could not
have been more accommodating for the Chronicle’s
Susan Slusser, Bay Area News Group’s Joe
Stiglich and the other
media. Then when that session ended, Matsui
moved over to another area on the patio, where he addressed a much larger Japanese
media contingent. Talk about stamina!
Of course, I
would be remiss not to share one other Matsui-related story that came from
today. While he was entertaining media
at our Papago complex, three of Hideki’s new teammates were entertaining themselves back at the team clubhouse at
Phoenix Municipal Stadium this afternoon.
Like a kid on Christmas morning, the irrepressible Dallas
Braden could hardly
contain himself as he awaited the delivery of a special gift he had ordered for
Matsui–a six-foot high inflatable Godzilla
replica. As scheduled, it arrived
around 1 o’clock this afternoon. Some of
the team clubbies inflated the plastic creature, then Braden and fellow
conspirators Andrew Bailey
and Craig Breslow
began their handiwork. First, Dallas tossed
on the A’s alternative gold jersey–a tight fit, I must say–complete with the
word Matsui and No. 55 displayed on the back.
Then Breslow suggested baseball cleats.
Braden was delighted that he had one pair of Japanse-made spikes, which
he proudly fitted onto Godzilla’s feet.
Then came the wrist bands, an A’s cap, and the Pièce de résistance, a jock strap!
Tomorrow morning, we expect Godzilla to meet Godzilla. The world awaits.