Godzilla Conquers New York

Hideki Matsui is the first Japanese-born player to win the World Series MVP

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    "Godzilla" virtually finished off the Phillies with an RBI double off J.A. Happ that made it 7-1.

    Hideki Matsui took a meaty cut, watched the ball fly and winced when it hooked a foot foul.

    That's about all that went wrong for him.

    Matsui put the world in World Series MVP, earning the award by homering, doubling, singling and driving in six runs Wednesday night as the New York Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-3 to claim their 27th championship.

    Matsui became the first Japanese-born player to win the award that started in 1955. He hit .615 (8 for 13) with three home runs and eight RBIs. His performance in Game 6 matched the record for RBIs in a Series game. No one, however, had done it in a clincher.

    "It's awesome," Matsui said through a translator. "Unbelievable. I'm surprised myself."

    Standing on a podium in shallow center field, Matsui waved his new championship hat and shook hands with commissioner Bud Selig. Matsui won three titles in Japan and was eager to celebrate his first in the Bronx.

    "I guess it's hard to make a comparison. When I was in Japan, that was the ultimate goal. Being here, winning the World Series, becoming world champions, that's what you strive for here."

    "You could say that I guess this is the best moment of my life right now," he said. "It's been a long road and very difficult journey."
    Matsui's two-run drive off Pedro Martinez in the second inning put the Yankees ahead for good. Nicknamed "Godzilla" back home, Matsui sent a shot to right field that banged off an advertisement on the facing of the second deck -- fittingly, it was a sign for the Japanese company Komatsu, which makes mining and construction equipment.

    After his hard foul, Matsui added a two-run single in the third and lined a two-run double off the right-center field wall in the fifth. The giant videoboard in center field showed fans holding Japanese signs and while the sellout crowd roared, he stood placidly at second base.

    Fans cheered when Matsui's feat, matching Bobby Richardson's 1960 mark for RBIs in any Series game, was posted on the scoreboard.

    Matsui drew a standing ovation when he came to bat in the seventh, and chants of "MVP! MVP!" bounced around the ballpark.
    "He hit everything we threw up there," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

    Praised Yankees captain Derek Jeter: "Man, he looked like he wanted it bad, didn't he?"

    "Matsu is one of my favorite players, one of my favorite teammates. He comes ready to play every day. He's a professional hitter," he said.

    Watching Game 6 on TV in Tokyo, Masanori Murakami echoed that sentiment. He was the first Japanese player in the majors, in 1964 with San Francisco, and fully appreciated the magnitude of Matsui's honor.

    "Ichiro Suzuki has had many accomplishments, but they've all been in the regular season. As the first Japanese to win an MVP in the World Series, this is a great accomplishment for Matsui and will have a huge impact," Murakami said.

    "New York is a tough place to play, so this is a great achievement for him given all he has been through with injuries and missing time," he said.

    Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher hollered Matsui's name during the clubhouse party.

    "Matsu," Swisher yelled. "They're partying in Tokyo tonight, I know that. Man, what a great job Matsu did for us, been coming up clutch for us in situations all year long. He deserved that MVP trophy. There's no doubt about it."

    An outfielder by trade, Matsui hasn't played the field since June 15, 2008, because of bad knees. He hit .274 this year with 28 homers and 90 RBIs, and wasn't much of a force in the AL playoffs against Minnesota and the Los Angeles Angels.

    That changed against the defending champion Phillies.

    Now strictly a DH and pinch-hitter because of his knees, Matsui accomplished a lot in a hurry. His 13 at-bats tied Baltimore's Rick Dempsey in 1983 for the fewest by a Series MVP (nonpitchers only, naturally), according to STATS LLC.

    Matsui became the first player to win the award as a full-time DH in the Series. Toronto DH Paul Molitor played in the field when the Blue Jays won the 1993 title.

    Matsui's eight RBIs were the most in a World Series since Reggie Jackson had the same total in 1977 and 1978.

    "Just wonderful," Jackson said. "He struggles to play the field now. Great, great player. Represents his country well. He's a gentleman. He's a class act. Great player and to put on a performance like that in what may be his last time in Yankee Stadium, you just tip your cap and enjoy it."

    Matsui left Japan and signed with the Yankees in 2003. At 35, his greatest achievement might've come in his final game in pinstripes.

    This year wrapped up Matsui's $52 million, four-year contract. It remains to be seen what the aging Yankees will do with him. Whatever happens, he certainly left his mark.

    "I hope so. I hope it works out that way," he said. "I love New York, I love the Yankees."