‘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.”


Profligate Arsenal punished by 10-man Atletico Madrid

The gunners could not defeat 10-man Atletico Madrid. (AFP)
Updated 27 April 2018
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Profligate Arsenal punished by 10-man Atletico Madrid

  • The Gunners played with an extra man for over 80 minutes
  • Arsenal now need to become the first away team to score in 12 matches at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium next week

LONDON: Arsenal’s hopes of sending outgoing manager Arsene Wenger off with a trophy suffered a major blow as they could only draw 1-1 with 10-man Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Europa League semifinal on Thursday.
The Gunners played with an extra man for over 80 minutes at the Emirates Stadium, with Sime Vrsaljko’s early red card handing them the initiative.
However, they were made to rue a host of missed chances before and after Alexandre Lacazette headed them in front on the hour mark.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone was also sent to the stands shortly after Vrsaljko’s dismissal, but the Spaniards resisted manfully and pounced when their chance came as Antoine Griezmann prodded home a vital away goal eight minutes from time.
Arsenal now need to become the first away team to score in 12 matches at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium next week if Wenger’s last game in charge is to be the final in his homeland in Lyon on May 16.
Moreover, Arsenal’s hopes of Champions League football next season also hang on becoming the first side other than Real Madrid to eliminate Atletico from Europe for five seasons.
There was a far more highly-charged atmosphere for Wenger’s penultimate home game in charge than there had been for last weekend’s game against West Ham United.
And the hosts were given plenty of encouragement early on, even when still up against Atletico’s full complement.
Lacazette volleyed off the outside of the post and forced Jan Oblak into the first of a series of fine saves with a header from close range.
Vrsaljko had been booked within two minutes for bringing down Jack Wilshere.

And the Croatian left his side a man light after just 10 minutes when French referee Clement Turpin showed no leniency for another late challenge on Lacazette.
Moments later, Simeone was also dismissed by the officious referee for taking his protests too far when an Arsenal player wasn’t booked for what he thought was a similar foul.
Atletico’s excellent defensive record is what has carried them to five European semifinals in seven seasons under Simeone.
The visitors battened down the hatches with 10 men, but were reliant on Oblak to keep them in the tie.
Wilshere headed straight at Oblak when unmarked at the back post at the end of a flowing Arsenal move.
And the Slovenian then spread himself well with an outstretched leg to deny Danny Welbeck.
Having weathered the Gunners’ early storm, Atletico only began to threaten themselves late in the first half and David Ospina had to be alert to parry a fiercely struck Griezmann shot following a fine run from Thomas Partey.
Atletico retreated ever deeper toward their own goal after the break and were finally punished on the hour mark when Wilshere’s deep cross found Lacazette rising above Lucas Hernandez to head in his seventh goal in seven games.
However, the French international and Arsenal could have had more.
Laczette’s dangerous ball across goal found no takers before he headed another good opportunity wide.
And Arsenal paid heavily for their profligacy, and some comical defending, when Atletico grabbed a vital away goal on 82 minutes.
Griezmann outmuscled French international team-mate Laurent Koscielny and then benefited from a slip by Shkodran Mustafi after his initial effort had been saved by Ospina to prod his 27th goal of the season into the roof of the net.
There was still time for Oblak to show why Griezmann isn’t the only Atletico player wanted by Europe’s elite with a spectacular one-handed save to turn Aaron Ramsey’s header behind and keep Los Rojiblancos on course for another European final.