In New York he was anonymous. In Japan they resented him for twice skipping the World Baseball Classic. But last night Hideki Matsui made fans take notice and cheer, capping a World Series performance that compares favorably to Reggie Jackson’s storied 1977 Series—Jackson hit .450 with 1.250 slugging, to Matsui’s .615 and 1.385. Japan rejoiced. “I don’t think anyone cares about Matsui not coming back to play anymore,” one baseball commentator told the New York Times.
“The Yankees are the strongest American team, right?” said one Japanese fan. “Then I think he’s got to stay with the Yankees for life.” Don’t count on it. Last night’s stunning performance was almost certainly Matsui’s last in pinstripes, writes Mark Kriegel. He’s “donated his knees to the Yankee cause,” and is now strictly a designated hitter, meaning New York probably won’t re-sign him. Matsui will understand. He’s the consummate Yankee: square-jawed, silent, and, most importantly, all business.