My Application for MLB Commissioner

Good afternoon, owners, magnates, and grand pubas of Major League Baseball,

I hope this letter finds you well. I am applying to the position of “MLB Commissioner”, as seen on job website MLB.com.

I feel that I am a strong candidate for this position, and my diverse resume and experiences equip me with the tools to not only fulfill my duties as Commissioner, but thrive and take the MLB to unprecedented heights.

As a (heretofore) underemployed recent college graduate, I am adroitly aware of the importance of maintaining MLB’s budget, and have extensive experience in watching my friends with cushy accounting jobs spend a lot of money on things they want in the moment, then decide they don’t want and trade mere months later. Once, my friend was immensely stoned and wanted to buy a $350 sculpture of a scarab beetle, and I talked him out of it; this proves I am capable of vetoing any contract not in the best interest of the players, owners, and MLB as a whole.

A strong disciplinarian is important to the health and image of MLB, and as an older brother with years of wiffle ball experience, I understand the essential nature of maintaining the old-school tradition of firing baseballs at the heads of those whom anger you, and vow to keep this dangerous and juvenile practice in place for my term.

I watched all of “Breaking Bad” in, like, 2 weeks, so I have a deep and thorough understanding of the television industry, and will be able to operate in the new world of MLB cable contracts with facility and faculty.

My zeal for baseball has yet to dim since I got a couple twitter favorites from a twitpic of a snapchat of myself crying after the Red Sox won the World Series last year, and I hope to lend my expertise and maintain an already-strong MLB flex, despite any anti-trust regulations establishing a dedicated No Flex Zone.

Attached you will find my proposals and platform as Commissioner. I thank you for reading this letter and reviewing my application, and I look forward to speaking to you again.

Sincerely,

@TheZaharaDesert

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As Commissioner, I will enact the following policies:

  • Complete revamping of Joint-Drug Agreement. Together with the MLB Player’s Association, I will work to enact a comprehensive performance-enhancing drug program, in which all players are given equal and equitable access to any and all PEDs they wish to take.
  • Regulating stadium concession prices. The owners’ hegemonic tyranny with respect to the price of beer and cased meats has gone on too long, and I will mandate hard caps of $3 on hot dogs and all beers – domestic, imported, craft-brewed, etc. It’s time to put the purchasing power in the hands of the everyfan.
  • Enforce pitchers’ delivery time limits more strictly. Jesus God fuck damn shit balls, just throw the goddamn ball, Papelbon. Please. For all our sakes. It’s 12:37 am, I gotta be at work in 6 hours, you’re 11 games back in the division, and I’m only watching this ’cause they’re letting Bartolo hit in the 9th for some strange reason.
  • Improve the plumbing in Oakland’s O.co Coliseum. Actually, never mind – Mr. Wolff, tear down this park!
  • Universal DH. Here’s the thing about pitchers hitting: it’s awful and terrible and anyone who actually enjoys it may require a lobotomy and/or chemical sterilization.  Bunts are entertaining in the same way root canals, traffic jams, and excise taxes are: not at all. Home runs are for all in the Zahara era.
  • Outlaw All Chanting of The “Seven Nation Army” Bassline. A seven Oriole fan army couldn’t hold me back from establishing this policy.
  • Instant 1000% pay raise for the MLB Commissioner. These Commissioner yacht trips to Ibiza for “baseball outreach” aren’t gonna pay for themselves! (Neither are the mountains of cocaine and strippers.)
  • Changing my middle name to BearWrangler. Kenesaw Mountain Landis was a great name. Bart Giamatti was a great name. William BearWrangler Zahara will forever be the greatest name.
  • Summary executions of any Red Sox fans who cheer the next retiring Yankee. Thankfully, the Yankees won’t have any “legends” retiring for the next couple geologic eras, but the warm receptions and ovations Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter received are unforgivable. I hope David Ortiz receives a gentle shower of used MetroCards, broken glass, and homeless person urine upon his last career at-bat at Yankee Stadium, as it should be.
  • Play all baseball games on Twitter. With the increasing shittasticness of real life threatening to consume us all in a hail of Israeli/Gazan/Russian/Ukrainian/Police brutality bullets at any minute, and with the #millenial proclivity to waste all their time* on the internet, I will end the primitive practice of actually playing games outdoors, and instead upload all baseball players to the Cloud and play via social media!
    * waste all their time = escape the hellificent debt-and-sadness double stuft world the boomers left us to flounder in
  • Clone Vin Scully. 32 more should do: 28 for every team besides the Red Sox, one for ESPN, two for FOX, and one for TBS’s obligatory random NLDS coverage.

You’re a wizard Girardi

The Yankees made a bunch of good moves this offseason. They said they were going to get under the luxury tax threshold. But hey, they’re the Yankees the words “luxury” and “tax” were the first works Hank and Hal Steinbrenner ever said. So that went out the window. Good move #1. They went on a spending spree, giving Jacoby Ellsbury 153 million dollars over 7 years and the countless tears of Red Sox nation. They gave Brian McCann 85 million to make sure that nobody ever breaks the unwritten rules of baseball and to look really really weird without any facial hair. Carlos Beltran got 45 million to hit the DL a couple times and let Ichiro get time in right field. Brett “Godner” Gardner even got in the act receiving a juicy 52 million dollar extension. And just when you thought they were all done shopping they went to Japan and threw money at young superstar Masahiro Tanaka in order to get him to come to the Bronx (Speaking of Tanaka, dude hired a private Boeing 787 to fly him and his family out from Japan. He truly is a Yankee). 

It may surprise you to read that I only consider all of those merely good moves. That’s because the Yankees front office made their greatest move this offseason by locking up manager Joe Girardi for 4 more years. You may be wondering why this is such a great move, considering Girardi only won 85 games and missed the playoffs last year. Well in the 6 seasons that Girardi had been manager of the Yanks he led the team to the best record in baseball at 564-408 including a World Series title in 2009. Last year was his greatest feat yet, squeezing 85 wins out of a roster that was starting Jayson Nix, Vernon Wells, Chris Stewart and Travis Hafner for most of the year. Not exactly the names you expect to see leading an 85 win team. Even the pitching staff was led by 41 year old Andy Pettitte and 38 year old Hiroki Kuroda. The 2013 Yankees had no business being a winning baseball team let alone in the wild card hunt until the beginning of September.

Fast forward to 2014 and the Yankees are still defying all expectations. The mighty rotation that started the year featuring Tanaka, Sabathia, Kuroda, Nova and Pineda has been destroyed. Just one of those 5 pitchers is still pitching for the Yankees right now and it’s not the young guns nor the seemingly rubber-armed CC. No its the 39 year old Kuroda, pitching on a one year contract leading the way. Last week the Yankees hosted the Tigers for a 4 game set with Max Scherzer, David Price and Justin Verlander all taking the hill consecutively. Naturally you would think the past 3 AL Cy Young winners would put on some masterful displays of pitching and completely shut down the inept Yankees offense. Except that didn’t happen. In fact Scherzer got beaten by a suddenly resurgent mid-season acquisition Brandon McCarthy, Verlander was outdueled by Chris Capuano (yes really) and Price spun a gem but wasn’t able to walk away with a decision as the game went to extras. Even in the final game, Rick Porcello, the team’s ERA leader could walk away with a win as Shane Greene went 8 scoreless and handed the 1 run lead to David Robertson who’s been so good in the closer role that Yankee fans don’t even remember what Mariano looks like (no that’s a lie, we miss you Mo). Even the rest of the bullpen has been stellar with flamethrowing righty Dellin Betances (102 K’s in 68.2 IP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and Adam Warren being the main setup men.

The scary part of this season is that even though 4 of our 5 Opening Day starters are out with injury, the pitching staff is still the highlight of the team. That’s how bad the offense has been. The aforementioned Brett “Godner” Gardner has been maybe the only bright spot leading the team in SLG%, OBP% and runs while being just behind fellow outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (ok there’s another bright spot) in average, hits, and RBI’s. He’s second on the team in homers behind Mark Teixeira. He’s been a 4 WAR player this year for the Yankees, completely living up to his nickname and his big contract. Chase Headley has also been a great mid-season pickup for the Yanks, playing 3rd base. I’m currently salivating at the thought of Alex Rodriguez moving back to shortstop full time next year once Jeter is out of the way. Can you imagine that? I can and it’s incredibly exciting.

Like the title of this post states, Joe Girardi has truly been a wizard this year. In fact I’m surprised nobody has carried him off and threatened to burn him at the stake yet. It’s incredible watching him juggle lineups day in and day out as well as the constant media circus around Derek “RE2PECT” “GOAT” Jeter. Much like the 2013 Yankees, today’s Yankees have no business being 5 wins over .500 and only 1.5 games out of the second wild card spot. I mean they have a -25 run differential. I guess when they lose they lose BIG. That’s the only way the Bronx Bombers know how to do things.

The biggest free agent acquisition of this offseason for the Yankees wasn’t any player, it was the man who can take all these square pegs and somehow shove them into round holes to make things work the right way. Joe Girardi may not be the best in-game decision maker but on a nightly basis he comes up with a way to squeeze every last drop of talent and effort out of his players and make this worn down, beaten up team a contender. And that’s why he’s the most important person the Yankees have got. 

Letting Go: The 2014 Red Sox and You

A few weeks back, I was visiting my grandparents overseas and my grandfather’s cousin from Iran had come to stay for a night at their house.  In a conversation between myself, her, and my mother, she was fooling around with some random beads laying around, and told my mother that she would thumb the beads, inventory stressors in her life, and with each bead she would say “let it go” and cut them out of her day.  I don’t remember the word in Farsi (but I can tell you it isn’t the word in the Persian “Let It Go” s/o to spoken dialects i guess) and my mother is asleep and would not take kindly to being woken up for this reason.

39-51. Last place in the East with no improvement in sight. It’s time to let it go.

piano

The losses loom large on the scoreboard tonight.
Not a rally to be seen.
A kingdom of underproduction,
And it looks like AJ’s the king.
Trade winds howling like this swirling storm outside,
Couldn’t keep ‘em out, heaven knows Ben tried!

Trade Peavy, call up Rubby
Can we get something for Holt? Maybe
DFA Drew, like Capuano
Also Breslooowwwwwwww

Let him go, let him go
Can’t let AJ catch anymore
Let him go, let him go
Vazquez’s pop time aint slow!

I don’t care
About AJ
Let’s play Swihart…
He probably walks more anyway

It’s funny how half this roster
Is under six feet tall
Including Jackie Bradley
Who seems to catch them all

It’s time for Mookie to play right field
Test his limits, hope he succeeds
Thanks, I’ll miss you Jonny G…but seriously…

Let him go, let him go
Sell Mujica to the team in Lehigh
Let him go, let him go
His WHIP is really high

Here I stand
And here I say
Let’s dump Doubront…

Their power flurries like a leaf falling onto the ground
Their hopes for playoffs spiral like a helicopter also falling to the groouuuundd
They have to think, the trade deadline’s comin real fast
We’re never goin back,
2013’s in the pasttttt…

Let him go, let him go,
Please just tell me Pierzynski’s gooone
Let him go, let him go,
That’s the only way I can keep on…

Here the O’s stand,
In first place,All our hopes are gooooonneee!!!!!
Post-Punto trade 2012 never bothered me anyway…

Okay, time for a little ~serious analysis~.

As I type this, second-have savior Jake Peavy is standing squarely in the forefront of the trade deadline rumor mill firing squad, the first among many roster upheavals to come before the all-star break and a presumably busy trade deadline.

Here’s a list of open questions the defending World Series champs have to answer in a very short period of time:

  • Jake Peavy – it’s not an if at this point, but where? Cards’ Randal Grichuk and/or Allen Craig have been tossed around as returns – with the latter, how does the contract situation come into play?
  • Jon Lester – will he be re-signed? If not, is a trade going to net anything better than a qualifying offer compensation pick?
  • John Lackey – at his putative peak value – can he land a sizable return?
  • Brock Holt – playing out of his mind, could he bring something of greater value back a la Jose Iglesias and Peavy?
  • Stephen Drew – if this team isn’t going to contend for a playoff spot, what function will he serve on a bridge team?
  • Will Middlebrooks – Should be returning from injury soon – where will he fit into the major league roster, if at all?
  • Jonny Gomes – is he a luxury a gutter team can afford? Will his services benefit a contender?
  • Koji Uehara – :( but…no…we can’t move Koji…can we?
  • Henry Owens – he has nothing else to gain from AA – how will they free a space for him in AAA?
  • And many more…

Taking this team from underachieving frigate of dead weight to playoff contender would require feats of roster construction only possible in video games with the option to turn off fair trades.  While a Giancarlo Stanton for Heiker Meneses trade appeals to all my senses, the universe is unfair and will not allow me to experience the greatness of that circumstance. They’re stuck in a position where their most tradeable pieces are either bringing back marginal or medium returns at best (Peavy, Uehara, etc), or herald the loss of a current or potential future franchise lynchpin (Lester, any high-end prospect).  They can’t trade their way into a playoff spot.

They can’t hit their way into one, either. AJ Pierzynski has been a vacuum of non-production.  Xander Bogaerts has shown a sadomachistic inability to do anything with the slider away.  In fact, the only respectable offense has come from last year’s up-and-down utility infielder turned nü-Zobrist, Brock Holt and his .311/.359/.425 line.

Not hitting, pitching spottily well. This team is all but unsalvageable.  Time to let it go.  I’m at the point where I can let this season go, regardless of what they do.  Except Pierzynski.  Please let him go away.

 

The USMNT: Why You Should Care

I want to preface this with me stating that I don’t know too much about soccer. Sometimes I still get angry about offsides (because it still doesn’t make any sense to me). In fact, I’ve conditioned myself to consider every single goal scored as offsides, because I’ve seen it so many times called.

Soccer, futbol, footy, whatever. It is by far the most dominant sport in everywhere in the world except the USA and Canada. But there’s reason for that. Soccer never really caught on in the States. Despite a history of consistently being underdogs at the national level, even beating England in the World Cup, there was never a league in the US that could really grab local attention. Sure, there was the NASL, but like so many other leagues, it went defunct due to revenue losses and lack of support. It has only been recently that Major League Soccer has made an impact on the way the world sees this country (Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley coming home, etc.). I’ll be honest when I say I didn’t really care for soccer as a whole, save those USA-El Tri games, until about seven or eight months ago. But even then, I only truly support domestic.

This USMNT is a lot different than its predecessors. For one, coach Jurgen Klinsmann isn’t a US citizen, though he has lived in Los Angeles for a long time, is married to an American woman, and his kids are as American as they can get. Second, this is probably the first team to really take advantage of “The American Dream”. The Dream being the fact that this nation is comprised of so many different backgrounds. Klinsmann did what really hadn’t been done before by previous US coaches: he imported the talent. Four of the 23 men on the roster weren’t even born in the country and multiple others hold dual citizenships, which meant that they could have very well played with other qualified World Cup opponents.

Another component to this team was looking at players within our own league. Klinsmann has a certain disdain for MLS, and the way we view sports, in its current state: MLS plays games in the summer, meaning that they cut right into the World Cup, the competition within the league is no where near EPL, but it IS growing at a rapid pace, and he puts a huge emphasis on not what someone has done, but what someone can bring. Regardless of these opinions nearly half the roster is comprised of guys straight from MLS, including Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC) and Michael Bradley (Toronto FC). Kyle Beckerman, the captain of Real Salt Lake, is finally getting to go to his first World Cup at the tender age of 32.

Klinsmann infamously said that the USMNT would not win a World Cup this year. I’m sure 99% of the people watching the tournament would have the same sentiments. In America, we want to be the best at everything, especially sports. We want to be the best in basketball (the NBA Finals, the NBA being the best league in the world), in baseball (the World Series), and everything else that could possibly be considered a competition. We did not make up this sport and our leagues are just now being filled up with guys who waited for their mom’s SUV to pick them up for soccer practice. I truly believe that one day we have a realistic shot at winning a World Cup, but there’s no way in hell that day comes in 2014.

But that doesn’t mean that we can’t support our nation. This year is an opportunity to hop on a bandwagon and not get off. We aren’t quite the superpower that Brazil, Spain, or Portugal are. But we can get there. Our team is built around a very excellent group of people. Altidore, Dempsey, Bradley, Howard. Those are obviously the biggest names on the team, but it’s going to be very interesting seeing guys like Diskerud, Yedlin, Johannsson, Brooks and Green develop right before our eyes.

I can understand reasoning behind contemporaries for wanting to root for the country that their fathers and mothers are from. Despite my family not really enjoying soccer, I still hope that Mexico does well. I do feel a sense of pride when I hear the Mexican National Anthem right before the game gets started. So yes, I can completely understand. However, to me, I can’t claim that as “mine”. I am American by birth so my ties to this country are far more powerful than those of my parents. It’s always seemed interesting to me when people root for a country they have no connections to, but that’s an entirely different rant post.

I keep reading that this is Brazil’s World Cup–both by geography and the fact they are the clear favorites to win it all, but personally this is my first opportunity to really immerse myself in the culture that has been growing stateside. This is really my first time being able to say “wow, that’s MY team, MY country”. And just like I’ve always been with all my teams (RIP Texas Rangers), I’m with them until the very end.

We might not be number one now, but the US always has a knack for getting there. We’ve been doing it for 250 years.

Ben Revere, Home Run Hitter

(Apparently MLB.com video doesn’t embed on WordPress, so click on that to watch.)

It happened. In the bottom of the 7th in last night’s Phillies-Rockies game, Ben Revere got a 1-1 fastball on the inner half of the plate from Rockies reliever Boone Logan, turned on it, elevated it, and hit it over the right field fence at Citizens Bank Park, snapping a streak of 1,565 homer-less plate appearances.  There is a small chance the apocalypse is on us already, but my loins are heretofore free of locusts and the cereal I’m eating is relatively radiation free (not fully free because, as we all know, most Aldi brands are so cheap because they were made with hard water runoff from nuclear power plants).  No meteorites have struck.  Will Smith has yet to introduce any aliens to Earf.  We’re in the clear, for the near future.

Here’s a gif of the hit from the good folks at Fangraphs.  You see Boone Logan, with the obligatory post-Yankees beard, rearing back and missing a spot, leaving the pitch middle-in.  Revere turns on it, knowing off the bat it had double potential, and scampers down the line.  The ball carried, and carried, and carried, and carried some more, just enough to sneak it over the notoriously short CBP wall.  Guys, this actually happened.  A classic entry to the magnificent Hall of Post-Home Run Dugout Silent Treatments punctuated this historic moment.

It took Ben Revere 1,565 times digging into the box to do this. Mike Trout has ~200 more PA, and 71 more homers. Bonds hit 122 homers in 1271 PA in 2000-2001. Ben Revere is no Trout.  He is no Bonds.  But he is Ben fuckin Revere, home run hitter, and nobody can take that away from him.  Some people go their entire lives never hitting a home run.  That one double that one-hopped the fence in Little League is not a badge of honor, it is a scar.  It was the peak of their career, a hilltop upon which they stood and looked out at the monstrous mountains of the kids who already started shaving and hit 30 that season, and they knew they would never measure up.  In that moment, a 12 year old’s hopes and dreams of baseball stardom were fractured and pulverized into a fine powder, which the wind blew away. Revere’s situation is a little different, but the home run is a magical and powerful sportsthing, and its ability to change the tide of a game/season/career/life is real.

Ben Revere finally homering doesn’t have to signal the end of society as we know it.  It could mean the beginning of a new, greater MLB, one where the home runs flow like a river of milk and honey, the strikeouts are plentiful, bat flips are social currency, and every team has their own Hank.

After the game, Revere said, “When I got to second base, I didn’t know what to do, especially when I got to third…It’s past me. I’ll try and get 400 more.”  For his sake and ours, I hope he does get 400 more.

The last time Masahiro Tanaka lost….

The world changes so quickly these days. Even in a game like baseball, change can happen before you know it. One day you could be winning a World Series and just 7 months later you could be second to last in the AL East with a -17 run differential (looking at you Red Sox). In any case, carrying on a streak like the one Masahiro Tanaka just ended is nothing short of incredible. Coming into this year, the last time Tanaka lost a regular season game was August 19th, 2012. Sure there was a loss in game 6 of the Japan Series last year, but he made up for clinching game 7 for the Rakuten Eagles one day after throwing 160 pitches in the aforementioned game 6 loss.

 

Tanaka started the year confusing major league hitters with his dazzling splitter on his way to 6 wins in his first 8 starts with a 2.17 ERA and 66 strikeouts. Tuesday was the first time he had faced a major league team twice. On April 16th, Tanaka threw 8 shutout innings, striking out 10 batters on the way to a 3-0 win for the Yankees. On Tuesday, Tanaka’s pitches did not have the same sharpness that he had shown in his previous starts. It could have been the rain, but in my opinion it was just a rare off night for a pitcher who’s already making a case to be considered one of the best in the league. 

 

So how long has it really been since Tanaka last lost a regular season game? Well let’s take a step back to August 19th, 2012…

 

…The #1 song in the country was Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen

…The #1 movie in the country was The Expendables 2

…The average gas price in America was $3.72 (it’s currently $3.65)

…The Washington Nationals had the best record in baseball at 75-46, followed closely by the Reds (74-48), Yankees (72-49) and Rangers (70-50)

…Miguel Cabrera was on his way to a triple crown with 31 homers, 104 RBI and a .331 batting average and rookie phenom Mike Trout was batting an insane .343 with 24 homers, 70 RBI and 39 stolen bases (ok those 2 are still pretty good, that hasn’t really changed)

…NL MVP Buster Posey was hitting .330 with 19 homers and 77 RBI

…Yasiel Puig was playing Class-A ball in Rancho Cucamonga around 2 months after defecting from Cuba

 

As you can see, lots of things changed from August 2012 to Tuesday night in Chicago, but one thing was the same. Masahiro Tanaka was one of the best pitchers in the world, dominating hitters in two leagues on two different continents. As a Yankee fan, I feel incredibly lucky to have him on my team and to be able to watch him pitch every 5 nights. 

 

Godzilla

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a rather varied pool of topics I like and can openly engage in conversation with. I love sports, but I also love comic books, video games, and movies. Movies in particular. I love kaiju films. I really have to blame my parents on this. They introduced me to dinosaurs and movies featuring dinosaurs at a really young age. Everything in my room was either Land Before Time or Jurassic Park-related by the time I was five. Naturally, my parents took me to toy stores a lot and bought me every dinosaur toy they could afford. It’d be at Toys R’ Us in the mid-nineties where my parents would confuse a Godzilla toy for a dinosaur. That was it. I was hooked. Godzilla took over for a while and then Godzilla balanced out with the rest of my interests.

But this is a sports blog, and while I would love to continue the trend of doing reviews for the new Godzilla movie that I’ve seen on the Internet, I wanted to do something a little different to pay homage to the King himself.

The New York Yankees of the 2000s were a dynasty. They were wildly successful from 2000 to 2009, going to the World Series four times (winning two), and only missing the playoffs in one sole year. To be honest with you, I didn’t try to pay much attention to them at the time because they will always be considered the Evil Empire. This era for the Yankees included greats such as Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and Roger Clemens.

But there was one player that was integral to a majority of the playoff runs of these damn Yankees. In fact, he had a prolific October in 2009.

Insert the Hanna-Barbera Godzilla song here.

His name is Hideki Matsui. Standing at 6’2″ and weighing 210 pounds, he was everything that ballplayers from Japan at the time were not: powerful. Matsui played a lengthy career in Japan before signing as a free agent with the Yankees in the winter of 2002. He was signed by the Yomiuri Giants (also considered the Yankees of Japan due to their domination in the playoffs) in 1993 but didn’t break through with the club until 1996, where he hit 36 home runs. His highest number of homers in Nippon Professional Baseball, the  Japanese equivalent to the MLB, was 50 in 2002, his last year in Japan. He had enormous power when he played in the Far East, that it’s almost perfect that he was dubbed “Godzilla” by both Japanese and American media. However, another reason given for his nickname has been attributed to the complexion of his skin. Matsui has had skin problems all of his life, while Godzilla’s scarred skin is the result of nuclear radiation.

When Matsui signed his contract with the Yankees in 2002, he would already be 29 at the start of the 2003 season. For those of you who are not baseball fans, this could have been a risky move by the Yankees as generally a player’s “prime” can be estimated from 27 to 32. They were not going to get the guy that hit 50 home runs, nor should they have not expected that seeing that the MLB is arguably way more superior than their NPB counterparts.

Alas, in his rookie year in the United States, 29 year old Hideki “Godzilla” Matsui hit for 106 RBIs and played every single game during the regular season. His durability honestly resembled the creature that he was named after: no other player on that Yankees roster played as many games as Matsui. Despite his stats that year, he hit a humble .279 during the Yankees postseason run, eventually losing to the Florida Marlins. The two years after that, when Matsui turned 30 and 31, he still remained a constant in the Yankee lineup, playing in every game for a total of three years. Arguably his best season as a Yankee occurred in 2004, a season I’m assuming would rather be forgotten by Yankee fans. He hit for 31 homers, had 108 runs batted in, and had an on-base plus slugging (basically how many times you reach base plus how often you hit a ball) percentage of .921.

The rest of his career with the Yankees could have been seen as a kind of rollercoaster. In 2006 he was hampered with injuries and only played 51 games. However he would bounce back in 2007 to play a very respectable 143 games. In both of those seasons, the Yankees were unable to make it past the first round of playoffs. In 2008 injuries would get the best of him yet again: he would only play 93 games that season, and even worse it would be the first time the Yankees didn’t reach the playoffs since 1994.

It would be in 2009, five years after the 50th anniversary of Ishiro Honda’s “Gojira”, that Matsui (if only for one month) would become one of the best imports from Japan. By looking at his season stats, you can tell something was different this year than years past. The 35 year old Matsui hit for an average of .274 but he hit the second-most homers of his MLB career at 28. While his advanced stats weren’t that great (I’m not going to bore you with those, but you can see them here) the numbers that most casual fans could observe were pretty damn good.

The Yankees would make the playoffs that year after missing out the year before, and they took that opportunity and swung and pitched their way to baseball’s biggest stage: the World Series. This is where Matsui would truly have a monstrous impact. He would hit the ball into the field 8 of his 14 chances. Of those 8 hits, 3 would be home runs. He would hit for an average of .615. 6-fucking-15. His on-base plus slugging (2.027) would be the equivalent of taking a Godzilla blast straight to the face. You have to understand the significance behind Matsui’s performance that October: he is only one of three players to bat over .500 and hit three or more homeruns in a World Series. The other two are Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, New York legends. To give a more general visual of what his numbers looked like in the Fall Classic of 2009, here is what Matsui did to those poor Philadelphia Phillies. In short, the Yankees won that series and Matsui became one of the few Japanese players to both win a championship in their native Japan and in the MLB. Matsui also became the first Japanese-born player to win the World Series’ Most Valuable Player.

After that legendary run with the Yankees, Matsui took three stints with three other clubs: the Los Angeles Angels, the Oakland Athletics, and the Tampa Bay Rays. Matsui would never reach baseball’s biggest stage again, but he overall had a very good season, especially considering he played until he was 38. He would call it quits after the 2012 season and would retire as a Yankee in the summer of 2013. Matsui finished off his career hitting .282 and hitting 175 long balls. In my opinion, even if his nickname was in reference of his skin problems, he definitely showed that he was the power hitter that Japan needed. Japan is not well known for producing players who can hit home runs, but for the one that could, they couldn’t have picked a better nickname. Like Godzilla, Hideki Matsui was durable, bigger than life, and most importantly, powerful.

And it’s not like Toho didn’t know about the nickname, as he’s featured in one of the best Godzilla movies to ever come out.

Tonight I get to see Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla, and this is my homage to the King of the Monsters himself.