Press Row: Matsuzaka's debut

Press Row: Matsuzaka's debut

BOSTON -- The intense media coverage of Daisuke Matsuzaka's Major League debut on Thursday wasn't limited to the hordes in attendance at Kauffman Stadium.

No pitch thrown by a Red Sox pitcher had more anticipation than the one the right-hander threw shortly after 2 p.m. ET. It's not a stretch to say that more eyes around the world saw Matsuzaka's first pitch and first game in a Red Sox uniform than any other debut in MLB regular-season history.

It certainly was the most documented.

Beginning in Boston and New England, where all the major-market papers chronicled every pitch online through their websites and blogs. There were the local Boston TV stations, all of which had a presence out in Kansas City.

Both The Boston Globe and Boston Herald were thinking along the same lines in both headlines and photographs. "Dice-KKKKKKKKKK" screamed both papers on their main front pages, posting a "K" for each of his 10 strikeouts.

And both papers sent their top sports columnists.

Dan Shaughnessy of the Globe detailed the atmosphere inside Kauffman Stadium, writing:

"Dice-K was Ice K. He was also 10 K. And Special K. Maybe even a Japanese Pedro. Or a Pocket Rocket. Given the hype and hysteria that have accompanied his every move and word since the Red Sox spent $103.1 million to acquire him, we figured it would be almost impossible for rookie right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka to live up to expectations in his first regular-season appearance before Major League hitters. But he did. On a day better suited for the Winter Olympics [36 degrees], Dice-K struck out 10 Kansas City Royals and allowed only one run on six hits over seven innings of a 4-1 victory at Kauffman Stadium [Thursday]."

The Herald's Tony Massarotti told readers that each time Matsuzaka takes the mound will be "can't miss" baseball events like Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez before him.

"Let's be honest here," Massarotti wrote. "If Matsuzaka is what the Red Sox believe him to be, if he is truly what we saw yesterday, we are all on one hell of a run. Roger Clemens pitched here for 13 years and Pedro Martinez for seven, and now Matsuzaka is in the first season of a six-year contract. Having a pitcher like that -- rather, a performer like that -- forces you to pull out the pocket schedule before making plans of any kind. Sorry, the 11th doesn't work. The Dice Man is pitching that day. Life, after all, is about priorities.

"We are just three games into this Red Sox season, but there are some things we just know. Every so often, there are those who put on a Boston uniform less as players and more as performers, and Matsuzaka certainly appears to be in that exclusive group. He has the presence. He has the ability. He has an artistry that simply makes him fun to watch. And everybody knows it," Massarotti added.

The common theme was obvious: If Matsuzaka can consistently replicate his performance of Thursday, when he remarkably matched the hype associated with his debut, then Red Sox fans can look forward to another great pitcher making Boston his home for the foreseeable future.

Both papers had some of their most acclaimed photographers on site. Both Matt Stone of the Herald and Jim Davis of the Globe filed photos of the star hurler in a blur, a la the Kentucky Derby or Indianapolis 500 at the finish.

The Herald's sports page on the back employed the headline, "The Dice Is Right!" The Globe's sports page went the bilingual route, printing "Monster debut" in Japanese characters with the translation below in parentheses.

Halfway around the world, the Globe's Jenn Abelson documented fans who turned out at a Japanese sports bar at 3 a.m. on Friday morning to watch their native son fulfill his dream of playing in the Majors. Meanwhile, the Herald stayed more local by running a story featuring Japanese fans celebrating the moment at Showa Boston Institute for Language and Culture in Boston inside their front cover on page 3.

The sports radio talk shows were in on the buzz as well. Both WEEI and 890 ESPN took calls from excited and optimistic fans throughout the late afternoon and early evening who had waited all winter for this day.

Nearly every caller was positive and praised the front office for spending the $51.1 million on the bidding process and the additional $52 million guaranteed to the right-hander over the next six years.

The enthusiasm is sure to carry over to next week when Matsuzaka is expected to make another debut -- his first appearance at Fenway on Wednesday night. And the media attention will be as intense as ever.

Mike Petraglia is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.