Monday, December 6, 2010

Okajima: It's So Hard To Say Goodbye

I know this was actually announced last week, but it was a hard week for me, and I'm trying to catch up now. It was announced that the Red Sox have non-tendered Hideki Okajima and he will be moving on. This is awfully hard for me because I liked Oki and his wacky delivery, but it was time.

Okajima has been on a slow decline for a while. Actually, pretty much since 2008. It wasn't as noticeable then, but the numbers were starting to slip. The guy only throws his fastball in the mid-to-high 80's. It was inevitable for the collective offensive monster of the American League to catch up to it. He was living off of pinpoint location and a little bit of trickery for a long time and we all knew it couldn't last forever. In his four wonderful seasons with the Red Sox, Oki posted ERA's of 2.22, 2.61, 3.39, and 4.50. His walks were (slightly) up in 2010, and his strikeouts were down. To me, that tells me that people were finally figuring him out. I don't know what the future holds for Oki. My guess is that it probably involves the National League somewhere. If it does, I wish him nothing but the best.

I will always remember Oki for three things; signing a baseball for my mom in Ft. Meyers, his absolutely fantastic 2007 which helped make the Sox world champions once again, and his delightfully addictive theme song. Yes, I AM going to miss hearing, "O....K.... A.... J.... I... M.... A. Okajima!" and chances are, a little part of you is going to miss it, too. The bullpen of 2007 was special. Sure, they didn't break a curse but honestly, there just aren't that many curses around to break. What they DID do was dominate when we needed them to. They entertained us. They were a band, and they were pirates. They kept it loose and seemed to genuinely enjoy their time out in the pen.

I am going to miss Oki. I just hope he lands with a fanbase that appreciates his entrance theme. Good luck, Oki!

EDIT: Yeah, I know he re-signed with the Sox, but I like this post so I'm keeping it. Welcome back, Oki!

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