Who IS this guy?!

'Niceguy' Eddie

Political Talk Show Host and Internet Radio Personality. My show, In My Humble Opinion, aired on RainbowRadio from 2015-2017.

Feel free to contact me at niceguy9418@usa.com. You can also friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and Tumblr, and support my Patreon. Also, if you don't mind the stench, you can find my unofficial "fan club" over HERE. ;)

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Friday, August 5, 2011

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(NOTE: I broke up my roiginal post into two posts so, if you didn’t read my earlier post or you’re more interested in politics than baseball, you should go back one and read "Furious" first. Or just read that one!)


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Shifting gears but keeping with today’s apparent theme of drawing historic parallels, the last line of my previous post was a reference that may have been lost on some of you. It was what Yankee owner George Steinbrenner called Japanese import Pitcher, Hideki Irabu during a dispute over his performance and attitude.

Irabu was a Pitcher in Japan with a ton of promise and potential. Bobby Valentine, who managed him in Japan, said that when he was “on” he was every bit as good as Nolan Ryan (a Hall of Famer who Valentine managed in Texas.) And when Irabu wanted to come to the States – before the current posting system came into existence – his team at first negotiated a trade with the San Diego Padres. But Irabu would have none of that. No, he would only go to one team: The Yankees. He likened the current Japanese system as a slave market, and managed to force a second trade, to new York, so that he could play where he wanted. It was largely as a result of Irabu’s coming over, and the circumstances around it that the current posting system came into being.

So the start of his career, IMHO, he could very fairly be called “the Japanese CURT FLOOD.”

In his first two years, and especially in 1998, he showed flashes of absolute brilliance, bracketed by meltdowns of epic proportions. As "King Tom" recently put it: "For two months in 1998, Irabu was the best starting pitcher on what would become the greatest team in baseball." And as hard as it is for a BoSox fan to admit – there’s certainly a lot of merit in that statement. But he was also a head case. When he was “off” he was as utterly awful as anyone could be. And his streaky performance came with an unstable, enigmatic and at time batshit-crazy mentality. He once hit a photographer with an errant warmup pitch –only to smile at him afterwards. (The camera maintained that it was intentianl.) He spit at fans. He feuded with Steinbrenner and Yankee ownership. And he fought openly with the press, refusing to deal with much of the Japanese press, who he felt slighted him, and going to far as to assault members of the American press. (And to do absurd things like swipe the pencil of an interviewer and break it in half because he asked him a question he didn’t like.)

So, given the tumultuous, roller-coaster that was his first couple of years in the major leagues, and the injuries that eventually shortened his career, I bestow on him a second epithet for him: The Japanese OIL CAN BOYD.

After his retirement, the personal demons that haunted him most of his life finally stated to get the better of him. He started drinking again, hard. His marriage collapsed. He had legal troubles. And last week, he was found in his apartment, hanging from the end of a rope. Dead, at age 42.

And it with no satisfaction, or mirth that I give him a third epithet: The Japanese DONNIE MOORE.

And just as with Moore’s tragic suicide in 1989, Irabu’s serves once again as a reminder of what is really important in life and what we forget sometimes is just a game.

Now, Irabu didn’t kill himself over his career troubles, any more than Donnie Moore did over that one pitch to Dave Henderson. All the same, every [Yankee] fan that ever booed him and every Japanese fan that ever mocked him for his partial-western ancestry all played some small part in what happened. It’s one thing to call someone a “nut-job” or a “head-case” but it stings a little when, years later, you find out that they were dealing with real demons. Issues that went beyond baseball, and beyond what most of us jeering fans and “knights of the keyboard” (as Ted Williams called them/us) will ever deal with.

I wasn’t a fan: He was a Yankee, after all. And I didn’t necessarily like him, or even know much about him: He didn’t make it easy. Still, I was disturbed to hear of his suicide: 42 years old and having pitched in the Post-Season for the New York Yankees. As lives go, his saw great heights that most people only dream about. There was no shame here.

There should not have been any regret.

What an unbelievable waste.

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