Bring out the dancing girls, start the ticker tape parade on Yawkey Way, Orange Whips for everyone; the Matsuzaka era has officially begun. The Dice Man took the mound last night, threw 25 pitches, 19 for strikes, and K’d 3. He gave up just a lead-off double before mowing down the rest of the batters he faced. Granted, it was against a bunch of teenagers from BC who probably don’t even shave yet, but still…

Red Sox Nation is teeming with optimism. Schilling, Beckett, and now Matsuzaka all looked very good in their 2007 debuts. Sure, there are questions about the bullpen, but show me a team that doesn’t have questions. If we go into the season without a defined closer, is it really that bad? Did the “closer by committee” experiment fail because of the concept, or because the Sox had some pitchers that were off the charts on the suck-o-meter? I tend to think the latter.

Even the worst teams with the worst closers win a ridiculously high percentage of their games when leading after 8 innings. If the Sox are solid in their middle relief and set-up roles, which I happen to think they are, can it be so bad seeing Donnelly, Pineiro or Tavares strutting out for the ninth? I think it’s worth a shot. If Hansen isn’t ready and nobody steps up, go get a closer. It worked out OK in 2003, until…well, you know.

Three days into the spring season, I’m as pumped as ever for the 2007 club. You?