The Great Buddy Comedy / Reality Series That Slipped Thru Our Fingers : When Irabu Met Lima Time

Posted in Baseball at 4:14 pm by

“His moodiness, injuries and weight problems led George Steinbrenner to call him a fat toad, a stinging tag that he could not shake,” writes the New York Times’ Ken Belson of the late Hideki Irabu, whose suicide by hanging this past summer has not (until now, anyway) led to deeper reflection on Irabu’s personality or struggles.  “Irabu Got Lost On The Road Back” mostly chronicles the right-hander’s brief tenure with the Long Beach Armada of the now-defunct Golden League, and while it’s equal parts sad and illuminating, a rare bit of comic relief is provided by another pitcher who also shuffled off this mortal coil recently. Enter Jose Lima, “the only teammate who felt compelled to communicate with Irabu”.

Lima was perhaps the only person with enough stature to needle Irabu, and he did not miss the chance. About an hour before the Armada were to play the Scorpions in Yuma, Irabu had still not shown up. (Irabu pitched twice on the road because the parks were within driving distance of his home.)

Typically, the manager or coach would give that night’s starting pitcher the ball to be used to start the game. It was a bit of ceremony, but Irabu was nowhere to be seen that night. So Lima took the ball, put it in a clear plastic baggie, taped it to the clubhouse wall and wrote, Irabu #?, on the tape.

Irabu chuckled when he showed up, then he threw five innings, gave up four runs and struck out six to earn the win.

Another time, someone left a sign at Irabu’s locker that had a picture of two Japanese businessmen laughing with the words, ROR: Raugh out Roud. Some said Irabu got the joke.

5 Responses to “The Great Buddy Comedy / Reality Series That Slipped Thru Our Fingers : When Irabu Met Lima Time”

  1. Juke Early says:

    None of this is funny. Especially referencing Irabu’s suicide.

  2. GC says:

    In what manner did anyone make light of Irabu’s suicide? Would it have made sense to cite a Times article — one of the few since his passing to attempt any sort of personality profile beyond repeating Steinbrenner’s slur — without mentioning his cause of death?

  3. Shavager says:

    Maybe Steinbrenner should’ve watched his money or took a better look at what he was spending on. Irabu did not live up to expectations but didn’t deserve the comment from The Boss. If he was disappointed then, I’d like to know what he thought about Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano, even AJ Burnett now. I’ll give Burnett credit, despite the big contract and the disappointments the last two seasons, he’s shown resillience in last 4 starts beginning to look like the old AJ with movement on his pitches and better locations. Hopefully he rebounds with monster season next year. I was sorry to hear about Irabu’s suicide, it’s a loss to humanity, not just himself and his family.

  4. Rog says:

    I read the whole article the other day and it was one of the nicest profiles I’ve seen in a long time, especially given the shittyness that passes for sports ‘journalism’ these days.

  5. David Roth says:

    Agreed with Rog in re: warmth and compassion. Definitely not the usual prose handjob, definitely not some sort of SEARING EXPOSE — just the story of a very conflicted, kind of sad dude told cleanly and compassionately. Really good stuff.

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