In passing and in retirement

Because the Yankee readers have a connection to New York City, I must mention the passing (both on Christmas Eve) of Jack Klugman and Charles Durning. And also, as I write this, it just flashed on the internet that Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf (Stormin' Norman) has also passed away.

Jack Klugman's connection is that the iconic "Odd Couple" was shot here on the streets of NYC. He, along with Charles Durning are two of the great character actors of their generation.

Charles Durning was born in Orange Co. NY, and passes away in Manhattan, a New Yorker to the end.

Many of you have heard of the exploits of Audie Murphy, the most decorated foot soldier of WW II. But I want you to appreciate what Charles Durning did for his country. He was among the first soldiers to land at Normandy, where he was first wounded. These multiple wounds are too gory to recount here, but he somehow recovered and was back in the line again at the "Battle of the Bulge", six months later, where he was wounded again,. before returning home to Army Hospitals.

He owns a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts, and from the French government, the Legion of Honour - Chevalier (among other honors. He was believed to be the most decorated foot soldier of WW II still alive until the 24th.

Stormin' Norman was born in Trenton, NJ., son of another Gen. Schwarzkopf and his astute tactical expertise saved COUNTLESS coalition lives in that First Gulf War. He also possessed a foot locker full of medals, many from his time in Viet Nam.

I mention all three of these names because the mainstream NY media chose to make the most of Jack's passing. (The print media mentioned both actors in their praises of their character acting, but TV ignored Charles mostly.)

At this time of year, people have presents on their minds, but the greatest present (to me) is health, life, liberty, and freedom, and the latter two great people mentioned here, did more than their part to help ensure that freedom.

Now, let's talk of the retirement of Hideki Matsui, AKA Godzilla, aka in Japan, Gojira.

When he came to NY, everyone instinctively knew he could never produce the Ruthian numbers he did in Japan. Add to that the pressure to deliver immediate dividends to the most demanding media extant, Hideki DID that!

He set the record for consecutive game played to start a career (500+), ended on a broken hand, diving to make a catch.

He drove in 100+ in his first four (full) seasons - (the injury season interrupted that). And in the post season, where so many players fall flat, Hideki rose to the occasion, batting .312 lifetime (post season) and .389 lifetime in his two World Series trips.

If you combined his Japan stats with his MLB stats, he had like 500+ HRs and 1600+ RBI, in fewer ABs than Gary Sheffield, ex-Yankee whose stats his resemble.

Hideki will not likely make the MLB Hall of Fame, but he was a great, clutch hitting asset during his tenure in the Big Apple. If the Yankees are smart (and if Hideki stays in the states until opening day), they should have him throw out the first ball.

As they say in Japan cheers: "Go....jira!"