Looking back on the first month of the 2007 season, there has probably been no greater surprise — beside the fact that Mike Timlin hasn’t been found drinking Hawaiian Punch from a hollowed-out human skull — than Hideki Okajima.

When his signing was announced, we were hardly partying in the streets, guzzling Nighttrain from the bottle, and kicking the crutches out from underneath old ladies. It was kinda like, “Okay. Great. So Daisuke Matsuzaka will have someone to talk to and troll for college chicks at Copperfield’s with.” Christ, Okajima himself famously noted during spring training that he was willing to be “a hero in the dark,” so we smiled and patted him on the back and set our sights back on his fellow countryman.

I never suspected that one month in, Okajima’s contributions would seem more impressive than Daisuke’s. But they do.

Matsuzaka’s been good, for sure, but Okajima, after giving up a home run on his very first pitch in Kansas City, has become one of the most potent weapons in what has been a most impressive bullpen. He doesn’t have Papelbon’s killer stare or Donnelly’s “laugh all you want, buddy, I can see the future with these” glasses or Timlin’s rap sheet. He just comes out with that big-ass neck-rope and quietly, efficiently gets the job done.

Watching him decimate the Yankees over the past couple weekends has been especially satisfying — the whatthefookwasthat? look on Giambi’s face, in particular, after Okajima set him down for the first time was a high-point. Remember how the Yanks used to one-two us with Ramiro Mendoza and Mariano Rivera? With Okajima-to-Papelbon, we’re kinda seeing that in reverse now. And it feels pretty damn good.

Understand: That time the hooker pulled a chainsaw on me in St. Louis notwithstanding, I like a good surprise. And Hideki Okajima has been the most pleasant surprise of this young season. I can only hope what we’ve seen so far is the harbinger of a most excellent summer.

The Worst Music Video Ever
On an off-day, my mind gets a-wandering. And last night, I was having a heated argument with a friend who insisted that the best music video ever made is the video for Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” Myself, I think it’s Weezer’s “Perfect Situation,” but the fact is, you could go on and on about what could be the best.

The worst, on the other hand, is pretty easy to pinpoint. It has to be the video for Styx’ “Music Time” — made around the time Tommy Shaw, apparently fed up with singing about robots, left the band. Now, the thing is, the worst video isn’t necessarily the worst song; I actually find “Music Time” rather infectious in a Pabst-blackout kinda way. But the video — which screams 1984 so loud, it will practically transport you back to the checkout counter at Chess King — is just an abomination; filled with cheesy costumes and editing and gimmicks that look better suited to some Sid & Marty Krofft show.

“Music Time” has all the hallmarks of a bad video, the foremost of which being that I honestly cannot recall any point in our nation’s history in which it would have been considered cool. Maybe that’s the point, but somehow I doubt it. Yet the way the band members — especially lead singer Dennis DeYoung — embrace the sh-tstorm whipping around them is admirable. And just a wee bit creepy.

A free “Sox Addict” T-shirt to anyone who can find me an actual music video that was actually worse than Styx’ “Music Time.” Link it up in the comments or e-mail me at soxfiend2004ATcomcastDOTnet. Decisions of myself and Denton are final. And likely drug-impaired.