‘Godzilla’ Hideki Matsui retires from baseball

Updated 28 December 2012
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‘Godzilla’ Hideki Matsui retires from baseball

TOKYO: Hard-hitting Hideki Matsui, who set several milestones for Japanese players in Major League Baseball, has announced his retirement from the game.
The 38-year-old slugger played for 10 seasons in MLB, seven of them with the New York Yankees, producing the most home runs, runs batted in and walks by a Japanese player in the league.
Matsui, the 2009 World Series MVP, told a news conference that he was no longer able to perform at the top level in either the United States or Japan.
“Today I’m bringing my 20-year baseball career to an end,” Matsui, who had been a free agent since being released by the Tampa Bay Rays in August, told reporters in New York on Thursday.
“I’m both sad and relieved. I had the opportunity to play this season but my statistics were not good enough. That’s the biggest reason.” Tributes flooded in for Matsui, a two-time All-Star with the Yankees fondly dubbed “Godzilla” since his early career in Japan for his powerful swing.
“He is a great player who always brought Japanese people hope and joy,” Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo yesterday.
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said: “I’ve had a lot of team mates over the years with the Yankees, but I will always consider Hideki one of my favorites.
“Despite being shadowed by a large group of reporters, having the pressures of performing for his fans both in New York and Japan and becoming acclimated to the bright lights of New York City, he always remained focused and committed to his job and to those of us he shared the clubhouse with. I have a lot of respect for Hideki.” Matsui was the first Japanese-born player to win World Series MVP honors, going 8-for-13 with three homers and eight runs batted in as the Yankees beat the Phillies in 2009.
“Hideki Matsui, in many ways, embodied what this organization stands for,” Yankees general managing partner Hal Steinbrenner said.
“He was dedicated to his craft, embraced his responsibilities to his team and fans, and elevated his play when he was needed the most.
“He did all these things with a humility that was distinctly his own, which is why he was such a big part of our success and why he will always be a cherished member of the Yankees family.” One of Japan’s most dominant hitters with the Yomiuri Giants from 1993-2002, he joined the Yankees in 2003 on a three-year deal worth $21 million.
In 10 Major League seasons, he batted .282 with 760 runs batted in for the Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay, belting 175 home runs.
In Japan, he boasted a .304 career average with 332 homers and 889 RBIs in 1,268 games. In his last season with the Rays, he played in 34 games, batting just .147.
Asked about his 507 homers in MLB and Japan, Matsui said: “Hitting home runs has certainly been one thing I’ve been able to bring but I’ve always believed the team comes first.” Matsui, a huge celebrity in his home country, played 1,250 consecutive games to finish his Japanese career and did not miss a game in his first three seasons with the Yankees, playing 518 consecutive games.
He was a three-time MVP and nine-time All-Star in the Central League in Japan before signing with the Yankees. Matsui kept the door open for a future in coaching.

“At the moment I haven’t thought about it but you never know, there might be a chance of it in the future,” he said. “I’m retiring with absolutely no regrets.”


Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard beat Tunisia and power Belgium to brink of World Cup last 16

Updated 23 June 2018
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Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard beat Tunisia and power Belgium to brink of World Cup last 16

  • Romelu Lukaku drew level with Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the World Cup goalscoring charts on Saturday
  • Belgium captain Eden Hazard scored in either half, including an early penalty at the Spartak Stadium

MOSCOW: Romelu Lukaku drew level with Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the World Cup goalscoring charts on Saturday, scoring twice as Belgium moved to the brink of the last 16 after a 5-2 romp against Tunisia.
The victory leaves the Red Devils top of Group G with two wins ahead of their clash on Thursday against England, who play Panama on Sunday.
After also scoring twice in the opening 3-0 win against Panama, Manchester United’s Lukaku showed clinical finishing with two first-half goals in Moscow, matching Ronaldo’s tally in Russia.
Not to be outdone, Belgium captain Eden Hazard scored in either half, including an early penalty at the Spartak Stadium, before substitute Michy Batshuayi added their fifth.
Tunisia’s consolation goals came from defender Dylan Bronn and captain Wahbi Khazri.
The Belgians were criticized by coach Roberto Martinez for starting slowly against Panama in their first group match but flew out of the blocks in Moscow.
Hazard — having been on the receiving end of some bruising tackles in Belgium’s opener — was sent tumbling after just five minutes but converted the penalty to open his Russian account.
Midfielder Ferjani Sassi picked up an early booking for complaining when Tunisia’s appeals for a penalty fell on deaf ears, just before Belgium added their second goal.
Ali Maaloul’s weak pass on the halfway line was collected by Dries Mertens, who sprinted away and put Lukaku clear.
The striker coolly hit his shot inside the far post, just past the outstretched glove of Tunisia keeper Farouk Ben Mustapha, in the 16th minute.
Tunisia responded two minutes later, Bronn leaping highest to head home a free-kick from his skipper Khazri on 18 minutes, only to be later carried off after landing awkwardly following a collision.
With half-time approaching, the Belgians grabbed their third goal.
After earlier squandering two clear chances created by Kevin De Bruyne, Lukaku converted his third opportunity just before the half-time whistle.
Thomas Meunier put him in behind the defense and Lukaku tucked his shot away, celebrating with De Bruyne, who started the move.
The Manchester City midfield maestro turned provider again after the break for Hazard.
The Chelsea star sprinted onto De Bruyne’s lofted pass, held off two defenders, rounded keeper Ben Mustapha and tapped home Belgium’s fourth goal in the 51st minute.
With one eye on the England game, Martinez took off Lukaku, then Hazard as the half wore on and for the final 22 minutes brought on Batshuayi, who could have scored five.
The Borussia Dortmund forward had a chance cleared off the line, was twice denied by Ben Mustapha’s saves and hit the crossbar, finally converting a cross for Belgium’s fifth goal.
Tunisia captain Khazri grabbed their second goal just before the final whistle of their second defeat in Russia.