Sports Nut

Hideki’s Hair


It probably isn’t the most culturally sensitive thing we’ve ever done, but my son and I now greet the new Yankee slugger by throwing both arms over our heads and yelling, “Matsui!” at the top of our lungs. The best thing about him—outside of the modified Carnaby Street do that makes him look like the Mike Smith character in Osaka’s finest Dave Clark Five tribute band—is that he hits almost everything hard. That crucial double in Game 7 was a topspin rope of which Steffi Graf would have been proud. Sunday night notwithstanding, he may never be a big home-run guy, but he’s going to wear out the power alleys in the stadium. And, of course, all most people can write about is how the Yankees went out and bought him, and isn’t it a shame about competitive balance, and wouldn’t we all be better off if, say, the hopeless Seligian Brewers had hired him, and on and on and on. This is your tin drum I’m beating here, I know, but this Yankees club is really an admirable lot, no matter how it was put together.

As for Rivera, I spent a week at Yankee camp for Esquire a couple of years back, and there really is something strangely ethereal about him. He doesn’t glare like Rich Gossage, or finish with a flourish like Dennis Eckersley, or even throw gas the way the great Dick Radatz did in my youth. Rivera’s not like any of them. Gossage, one of the truly interesting minds in the game, agreed that there was something different about him. He’s that rarest thing—an elegant closer—which may be why we’ll appreciate him most after he’s gone.

The worst thing for the Marlins so far—besides the fact that phenom Miguel Cabrera, who torched the Cubs, went oh-for-the-Bronx this weekend—is that the Yankees started kicking the ball around the stadium again on Sunday night, and the Floridas couldn’t capitalize. Herewith a note to young Aaron Boone—your 15 minutes as a Yankee Hero have now officially expired. Please consult Rightfield Bleachers for details.


Thank you very much.