By: Joe Strupp
Japan is not known for it abundance of Boston Red Sox fans. But with Japanese phenom Daisuke Matsuzaka signed to pitch for the Beantown boys next season, the Far East interest in Fenway Park happenings has already shown a sharp increase.
Quick to take advantage of this Asian audience is the Boston Herald, which revealed Thursday plans to post online news items and stories about the “Sawx” and Matsuzaka in Japanese.
“All we’ve heard about is how interested the Japanese are in following the progress of players from their country coming to the Major Leagues,” Herald Executive Sports Editor Hank Hryniewicz said in Thursday’s paper. “So why not reach out and try to draw those readers to our Web site? It makes perfect sense.”
The Red Sox drew attention throughout the baseball world when they paid $51 million earlier his year just for the right to negotiate with Matsuzaka, who ended up signing a six-year contract for about $8.7 million annually.
The Herald revealed that its Web site is already seeing a marked increase in page views from computers based in Japan, sparking the idea for the foreign-language version of stories.
“Since the Red Sox won the bid to negotiate a contract with Matsuzaka in November, Herald Interactive has seen page views jump 10 times for readers with a preference of Japanese set in their browsers,” the Herald reported. “Since signing the ace a week ago, those page views have jumped 14 times from the original numbers at the end of October.”
Bill Gaffney, Herald Interactive vice president of technology, production and editorial, added that Web users from Japan have jumped from seventh to second, surpassing Canada and the U.K., among those foreigners using the Herald site. “This is a unique project that is trying to bring two completely different cultures together,” Gaffney said in the paper. “Once they get a taste of American journalism in Japan, especially on a subject that is written with such emotion by our reporters, I think they’ll be hooked.”