Your New SS: Matsui Announced As Met

The Times Square Sheraton, with its thousands of flashbulbs going off every second, resembled the Land of the Rising Sun on Wednesday, fitting as the Mets introduced Japanese superstar Kazuo Matsui as their newest shortstop.

The press conference was a spectacle as complicated and as filled with pre-written rhetoric as the process of Matsui's signing itself was. Hosted by Mets and ESPN broadcaster Dave O'Brien, the event, which had to be moved to the hotel from Shea Stadium to accommodate the throng of Japanese media that is sure to be following the savvy star throughout the year, was kicked off by a short statement by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who gave lofty praise to Matsui's skill as a ballplayer.

Bloomberg, speaking for the "eight million people in New York" got down to business with Matsui, drawing laughs from the audience when telling Matsui in jest that he considered him an economic benefit to New York, telling him he "looked at him as a taxpayer", licking his chops at the prospect of Matsui's $20.1 million contract. He also told Mio, Matui's wife, to take advantage of New York's unique cultural opportunities with their three-year old daughter, Haruna. Bloomberg left Matsui with an ultimatum: deliver a Subway Series for New York.

O'Brien then got back on stage and thanked Matsui's representatives and the key members of the Mets organization that helped get the deal done.

Next came new General Manager, Jim Duquette, flanked by one of Matsui's translators. Duquette said:

"This is an exciting day for the New York Mets organization. As you know, our plan from the beginning this off-season was to get younger, more athletic, acquire more speed throughout the team, and improve our pitching and defense, especially our defense up the middle. The signing of Kaz Matsui fits perfectly in that plan, and it is a huge first step towards improving our club."

Duquette stated that the buzz from the MLB-NPB All-Star series last year, in which the MLB team was managed by Met manager Art Howe, was all about Matsui and that they were thrilled to get him. After establishing his credentials, which included seven all-star games, seven best-nine appearances, three gold gloves and an MVP, he finally introduced Matsui to New York.

Matsui showed his media savvy when he introduced himself by saying, in English, "Hello everyone. My name is Kaz Matsui. I love New York." His translator then took over, explaining to the media that Kaz was very happy to be in New York and he will do his best to fufill all the hopes and expectations of the Mets fans.

Showing off the Mets' 1986 World Series ring he borrowed from Fred Wilpon, he told the press that he hoped to deliver another one to the Mets. On his expectations and his game:

"I don't consider myself a homerun hitter. I'm just going to try to get up to the plate and hit, and run hard and beat out hits, and get as many as I can."

On his experiences with MLB players:

"I thought they were amazing when they were playing. I had only seen them on TV before, and to play with all those superstars was really wonderful."

On adjusting to American culture:

"More than just coming here, there is the cultural issues too, and the quicker we can get used to the culture, the better. And the same way to the way I'm going to work really hard on the playing field, I'm going to work hard to learn the culture and try to fit in here as well.

On choosing the Mets:

"Yes, the Mets were my first choice." On Jose Reyes, the 20-year old phenom Matsui is bumping to second base:

"He's really a young, wonderful player. I've seen him on TV and I've heard all about him. I'm really looking forward to working together with him."

On the nickname Little Matsui:

"Everyone remembers that from the Japan-American All-Star game. I'm really appreciative that people remember me and remember that name, but I prefer to go by the nickname of Kaz, that's my name and that's what I'd like to go by. I am really appreciative that people remember that name."

Fred Wilpon has a $20 million bet that people will remember that name for a long time.

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