Hideki Irabu’s sad final years

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Ken Belson of the New York Times had an excellent albeit sad story in yesterday’s New York Times about the final years of Hideki Irabu, who committed suicide in late July.

In some ways it’s a familiar story of an athlete who doesn’t know what to do with himself after his playing days are over. But there’s one aspect of it Belson touches on that made Irabu’s situation way worse: he was basically a man without a country.

He was of mixed heritage, with his father being an American military man who has been stationed on Okinawa and who Irbau never met. This caused him to be taunted to some degree by the media and fans when he played in Japan. After coming to America to play he remained here, living in Southern California, but he never really got acclimated. Belson says that before he killed himself his wife and children, “had become acculturated to American life” and left him.

We saw during his career that he was not one who fit in easily anywhere. We learn now that, on top of that, he was isolated.  Putting that together with a career that was unsatisfying in many respects and which he tried and failed to revive later, it’s much easier to understand why the man was so haunted in his final days.

Report: Red Sox sign Kenley Jansen to 2-year, $32 million deal

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO — Veteran closer Kenley Jansen and the Boston Red Sox have agreed to a two-year, $32 million deal, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the agreement was pending a physical.

The 35-year-old Jansen went 5-2 with a 3.38 ERA in 64 innings for Atlanta this year. The three-time All-Star led the National League with 41 saves, helping the Braves win the NL East title.

Boston is looking to bounce back after it finished last in the AL East this season with a 78-84 record. The Red Sox went 92-70 in 2021 and lost to Houston in the AL Championship Series.

Jansen spent his first 12 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, winning a World Series title in 2020. The right-hander signed a $16 million, one-year contract with Atlanta in March.

Jansen has a 2.46 career ERA. He was an All-Star in 2016-2018.

His 391 career saves are the second-most among active players (behind Craig Kimbrel‘s 394) and eighth all time.