Nevermind the endless hype that has surrounded the young Japanese ace from day one. It's an event even when Matsuzaka faces a lineup of overmatched college players. What makes this start special is the history surrounding it.
Matsuzaka's very first pitch will be against the model of success for any Japanese player looking to transition to the major leagues: Ichiro Suzuki. Ichiro and Matsuzaka have faced one another before, with Matsuzaka dominating the slap-hitting outfielder. In their first matchup, an 18-year-old Matsuzaka struck out Ichiro three times.
Aside from having to pitch to Kenji Johjima, another successful Nippon Pro Leaguer, Matsuzaka will face off against Felix Hernandez, the Mariners' young ace who has been nicknamed "King Felix" by adoring Seattle fans. Both players have a bewlidering assortment of plus pitches, and both are regarded as the future of their respective franchise.
Who will win this epic clash? Cast your vote below, SportsNation!