Matsui's a rookie in name only

Solving the Hideki Matsui rookie-of-the-year eligibility debate is simple: Vote for Rocco Baldelli.

Updated: September 5, 2003, 4:55 PM ET
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN Insider
Hideki Matsui attracted 350 reporters to his first public appearance as a Yankee in January, three times the turnout for Mike Mussina and Jason Giambi's welcome-to-New York press conferences. Amazingly, an informal Marriott Marquis ballroom survey showed that less than two percent of the 350 came in search of free food.

Matsui, through an interpreter, said all the right things about Yankee pride and wanting to fit in with such a hallowed organization. He even created a safety hazard befitting an international superstar, as several photographers nearly clocked each other climbing on chairs to take his picture. With all the snapping, it sounded like a cricket invasion in Times Square.

Tony Attanasio, the agent for 2001 American League MVP and Rookie of the Year winner Ichiro Suzuki, predicted the scrutiny would only increase with time. "One night Joe Torre will lift the guy for a defensive replacement, and it's going to cause an international incident," Attanasio said.

Jerry Crasnick

ESPN Senior Writer