(above : a sickening character who milked his association with the New York Yankees for all it was worth.  And on the left, the late Hideki Irabu)

Hideki Irabu, a two-time World Series winner with the Yankees, and an outstanding starter for 9 seasons with Chiba Lotte Marines, was found dead today in Rancho Palas Verdes, CA.  Irabu, last seen in this space attempting a comeback with the Long Beach Armada of the now defunct Golden League, never managed to live up to the gargantuan expectations of Yankee ownership or fans after signing a 4-year, $12.8 deal in 1997.  Said pact came after San Diego purchased Irabu’s Japanese contract, but were forced to deal the right-hander to New York when he refused to sign with the Padres.

Rightly or wrongly, Irabu will probably be best remembered by American sports fans as the subject of ridicule, by characters real and ficitious.