The Curse of Jerry Hairston, Jr./Eric Hinske:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hardball Talk: Hideki Matsui announces his retirement

Not necessarily a surprise, but Hideki Matsui has announced that he is retiring. He will hold a press conference in New York to make it official.

We last saw Matsui when he was released by the Rays last August after 34 games. But before that Matsui had himself a nice career. Ten years in the bigs, mostly with the Yankees, during which he hit .282/.360/.462 with 175 homers and 760 driven in. He was the 2009 World Series MVP too, going 8 for 13 with three homers against the Phillies.

I’ll always remember Matsui fondly for 2009 of course, but the play I think about first—and I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before—when it comes to him is the play where he broke his wrist while diving to make a catch.  It was a bad enough injury that it put him out for close to four months and the pain must have been excruciating, but his first impulse was to get the ball back into the infield and not to hold his wrist in agony.

But yeah, 2009 was pretty sweet too.

Farewell Godzilla, and thanks for the memories.

--Posted at 1:31 pm by SG / 42 Comments | - (0)


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Love Matsui. My favorite Yankee (not Mo division)

Will always remember all those big hits against Pedro. The GW double in 2003 Game 3. 2 doubles in Game 7 including the big hit in the 8th and the game-tying run. Single, walk, and GW HR in 2009 Game 2. Then the monster MVP Game 6. A classy Yankee all the way and one of my favorites in that era. He also holds the Yankee record for most games played in a season, with 163 in 2003.

One of my favorite players ever, and his teammates loved him too. May he retire to a massive video collection.

“... but his first impulse was to get the ball back into the infield and not to hold his wrist in agony.”

Let’s also remember that, afterwards, he apologized to the fans for getting injured.

Loved his approach at the plate was always the same no matter what the situation was.

I was a big, big fan.  He wasn’t the high average, 40-50 HR threat he was with the Giants but for his first 5 or so years he was consistently a very good player.  I wanted him back as the DH in 2010 but it wasn’t to be.  As the Yankees said at the time, it’s better to let someone go a year too early than it is to hold on a year too long.

Thanks for everything Matsui and good luck in your future endeavors.

[4] In addition to the other great memories pointed out hear, I clearly recall two ABs.  His first AB in the majors, I believe in Toronto, was an RBI base hit.  And, of course, I was driving around in a snowstorm for work listening to Opening Day for his first home game and Godzilla hit a grand slam.  If not for the sorry performances of David Wells and Alfonso Soriano, Hideki would have gotten a WS ring that first season in pinstripes.

Bus drivers breathe a sigh of relief.  So long, Matsui; you were a true Yankee.  And your 2009 finale was one hell of a show.

How about the home opener against Minnesota where he hit his first MLB grand slam?

9 I remember hearing that at work.  I also remember a Sunday game where they either walked someone in front of Matsui or brought in a lefty to face Matsui who confounded their plans by going deep.  But the 09 series was the best.

Inner Circle favorite player for me. Ave et vale, Mortuorus Ambulantus !

[7] You forgot Joe Torre on your list . . .

[12] I saw Matsui hit a home run at Safeco, and I’m yelling BRAAAAIIIIIiiiiinnnnnnssss !!!!!!

Crowd around me looked at me like I had lobsters crawling out of my ears.

I seem to recall Torre always going on about Matsui being a professional hitter, by which he didn’t mean that Matsui had a high OBP or SLG but that he could always be counted on to hit behind the runner or produce a sac fly.

I had lost track of the fact that Matsui was a Yankee for seven years.  Somehow those years flew by.

The 2002 offseason. Imported the best player from Japan and the best pitcher from Cuba after winning over one hundred games. Those were good times.

I irrational liked the way he played LF in his first years. Loved the way he played the Green Monster.

I loved Godzilla, his humility, understated style and vast porn collection.

The 2002 offseason. Imported the best player from Japan and the best pitcher from Cuba after winning over one hundred games. Those were good times.

I sure did recall the optimism at the time! Nothing, though, I think was as dramatic, optimism-wise, as the signings of CC, Teix and Burnett in the 2008 offseason. The best pitcher available, the best hitter available and a decent pitcher? What a shock!

The most optimism I would say was post 2003. Had just beaten Boston and won the 6th pennant in 8 years. Then added to that with Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield. Plus we added Javier Vazquez who was a 27 year old everyone thought would be a top of the rotation stater for the better part of a decade here. Plus Kevin Brown who was old but coming off a year with a 2.39 ERA. Then in the bullpen we added Quantrill and Gordon.

20. Yeah, that offseason would have been pretty damn near perfect if they bought Pettitte back. I think their rationale was twofold: that he could breakdown (which seems pretty foolish in retrospect, but he had experienced pretty consistent elbow soreness and missed significant time in ‘02) and that he would be average away from Yankees Stadium, and without the Yankees offense. If that was their thinking, they were wrong across the board. Pretty poor planning, going into such an important with no left-handed starters in the rotation, in Yankees Stadium! I do catch myself wondering whether they would have rolled to a title in ‘04 with Pettitte in the rotation. (he was injured swinging a bat with the Astros that season) They came pretty damn close to rolling without him. And who knows, maybe Pettitte could have mentored Vazquez or provided some support when he fell apart mechanically (and physically?) in the second half. Mussina and Contreras were the holdovers, but neither was likely to counsel a young starter trying to deal with all the pressures.

Still, it was a fantastic, fantastic offseason, all told. They regressed to the mean in ‘05 with one of the worst off-seasons ever. Imagine how disastrous that could have been if the D-Backs plucked Cano and Wang from that list for Randy Johnson, instead of Navarro and Halsey. Sheer luck. Add in the Womack, Wright, and Pavano signings, instead of Beltran, and wow. Not to mention Giambi’s steroid press conference. Not fun times.

The 2004 offseason had some thrills with the addition of A-Rod and Sheffield, no doubt, but they lost Wells, Pettitte and Clemens (plus Jeff Weaver, but he sucked), and I recall there being some worry over whether Vazquez and Brown would be enough to make up for the losses of those three guys.

Replacing 4/5 of your rotation is a pretty tall order.

Plus, couldn’t they have gotten Vlad instead of Sheff? I believe they could have gotten either one and Steinbrenner went with Sheff.

Doc recommended his nephew and George listened

Matsui had a really quick release.

It’s true about having to replace Wells, Pettitte, Clemens. But I think at the time no one wanted Wells back. Clemens was thought to be retiring. So it was really just Andy that we lost. Vazquez was brought in to be a long term horse in the rotation, while Brown was kinda brought in to be a stopgap replacement for Pettitte. Plus everyone was high on Contreras. He had gone 6-1 with a 2.34 ERA in his starts in 03. I think most Yankee fans felt the trio of Vazquez, Brown, Contreras could match the Pettitte, Wells, Clemens group. Obviously we were wrong. But in context the Yanks had won 6 pennants in 8 years and we felt kinda invincible. In alot of fans minds we were getting younger with Vazquez and Conteras in the rotation and added a good stopgap in Brown. Plus there was the matter of a 3-4-5-6 in the order of Arod-Giambi-Sheffield-Posada. Who had OPSs of 995-939-1023-922 in 2003.

3-4-5 in 2013:

Nunez-Cervelli-KingmanGranderson ?

Nightmare on River Ave and 161st

Maybe the ALCS was just the ghost of Christmas future.

Last time I looked, there was some field for kids’ sports at River and 161st.

“that he could breakdown (which seems pretty foolish in retrospect, but he had experienced pretty consistent elbow soreness and missed significant time in ‘02)”
How is it foolish in retrospect when he missed most of his first season in Houston after elbow surgery?

[30] Because he got injured swinging a bat

The height of optimism for me was after the third straight title in 2000, when they went out and added Mike Mussina to what had already been a formidable starting rotation.  This was also pre-9/11, so the world was a generally more optimistic place.

[32] OMG.  The terrorists won?

[31] In a hundred years, a pitcher being injured while batting will be considered a worse excuse than jumping on a trampoline with your kid.

[30] Yeah, I don’t think at all that that means it wouldn’t have happened doing something else before long. Elbow injuries from swinging a bat are not normal and likely indicates a preexisting structural issue.

This offseason is so boring that we have been reduced to discussing previous offseasons.

[36] Funny,but we always do that.

I’m pissed we didn’t sign Beltran in ‘05.

Me, too.
And I’m sorry we sold the KC franchise.

I’m just glad we’ve gotten off the uncomfortable topic of next year’s offseason.

[39] The evil of the day is sufficient unto the day thereof.

[40] In the offseason this timeless verity does not apply.

Some fun going on in the Meadowlands, in case anyone cares.

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