ST. PETERSBURG After a month in the making, Matsui Mania descended upon Tropicana Field with one Godzilla-worthy wallop.
Veteran slugger Hideki Matsui may have taken his time moving up the ranks of the Tampa Bay Rays' minor leagues, accompanied each step of the way by a throng of some 50 Japanese media members.
But he wasted absolutely no time Tuesday night endearing himself to Rays fans and his new team, while truly giving the traveling Japanese press corps something to write home about.
Thirteen hours ahead of Eastern Time, baseball lovers throughout the island nation watched live cut-ins on their TV sets every time Matsui stepped to the plate linked halfway across the world to cheering Rays fans inside the Trop. And they all had something to celebrate in the fourth inning when the 37-year-old Japanese baseball icon and former New York Yankees World Series MVP belted the first pitch of his second at-bat as a Ray high over the right-field wall for a two-run homer and 2-0 ...