Associated Press

Must-Click Link: The Tragedy of Hideki Irabu

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Hideki Irabu was a star in Japan and made sports labor history in maneuvering his way from the Chiba Lotte Marines to the New York Yankees in 1997. He then played six mostly disappointing years in the big leagues, finishing up with the Rangers in 2002. As you likely know, Irabu took his own life in July of 2011, leaving behind a wife and two children who had already left him.

After his playing days were over, he became listless and depressed. He was a man of big appetites when he played, and without the structure of baseball, those big appetites — for alcohol, particularly — contributed to his undoing. Also contributing: a lack of identity or purpose, much of which was tied up in his lack of belonging. He was of mixed heritage, with his father being an American military man who was stationed on Okinawa and who Irbau would not meet until adulthood. Growing up, this caused him to be taunted, making Japan something less than home for him later. After meeting his father upon arriving in America, the two would not become close. Too much time and history had passed.

Today Ben Reiter of Sports Illustrated writes about Irabu and his sad and complicated life. It’s must-read stuff, filling in the gaps most of us likely never thought much about. He was, infamously, the man George Steinbrenner called a “fat toad” and he was not the player he was advertised to be, but rare has it been that we’ve learned anything about Hideki Irabu the man.

Take some time on this slow news day and check it out.

 

Baseball to honor Stoneman Douglas High School as spring training games begin

New Era
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There were a few exhibitions against college teams yesterday but today the Grapefruit League and Cactus League schedules begin in earnest, with big league teams, more or less, facing big league team, more or less.

The baseball will look like baseball, but the teams will be wearing different caps today: black caps with the maroon “SD” of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting on February 14.

All teams and umpire crews will wear the caps pre-game, and they have the option to wear the caps during the games. The only two teams not playing today — the Royals and Rangers — will wear them tomorrow.

After the games players will sign the caps and they will be auctioned off to raise money for the Broward Education Foundation, which benefits the official Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund.

Here’s today’s schedule: