I thought I was really pushing it last week when I wrote about the Seattle Mariners. No one cares about the Seattle Mariners! As a Mariners fan, I am acutely attuned to this irrefutable fact of the baseballing internet. And yet, here we are, and the Seattle Mariners are a hot topic in the sweltering sports cycle and I feel compelled to add my two cents because what am I going to do, actually research and learn about other teams and other players I’m less familiar with? Sounds hard.
The Mariners are a topical topic of discussion because they have traded Ichiro Suzuki to the New York Yankees and everyone is really surprised by this. I am surprised as well. To make a really long story really short, Ichiro has been a fixture of Seattle Mariners baseball for more than a decade. Whenever a local superstar is traded to the most evil baseball team in the history of the universe, it’s big news and it elicits a lot of emotion from a lot of people.
If you’ll allow me a bit of personal indulgence—and I don’t see how you’re in any position to not, unless you’ve somehow managed to hack into my computer in which case please forgive me for my brash comments and exercise mercy on my Paypal account—watching last night’s baseball game was effing weird. Like, just the weirdest. It was the weirdest thing. Not only was Ichiro a Yankee, he was a Yankee in Seattle, on the Safeco grass and dirt, walking around all Yankee-like where he’d previously been a Mariner for as long as anyone could remember.They say this was all just one big coincidence, and I’m sure it was, but that didn’t make it any less compelling or… weird. The word is weird and there’s no other word. Strange, maybe.
In the bottom of the first inning, with runners on second and third and two out, the tastefully named Kyle Seager drilled a line drive to right field. And Ichiro (Ichiro!) caught the ball. He moved a bit, he set his feet, he caught the ball, and he was wearing a grey Yankees uniform. He even did the classic and routine little Ichiro flourish where he dipped his head down with a little hop step to signify the third out of the inning and time to run back to the dugout. Except he ran to the wrong dugout. In the third inning, Ichiro ripped a line drive down the middle of the field and then stole second base and everyone was like oh man, what?
I don’t think there’s any great lesson or moral or point to what I’m saying here. That’s sort of how I roll. I’m just a Mariners fan who also writes a bit about baseball, writing about a really stunning thing that happened. I’m rambling because it’s a natural extension of how I feel in my insides and my insides have this way of dictating the words I say and type. Broad view, it’s hard not to see this as a complete win-win for both the Mariners, Yankees, and Ichiro, so I guess that would make it a win-win-win. The Yankees get an interesting player for next to nothing who will serve as a solid platoon outfielder, an above average defensive replacement, and maybe even a pinch runner, all with the upside of something even better than that. Ichiro catching fire and reminding everyone that he’s an ageless freak is nowhere near out of the question. Have you seen how much that guy stretches? It’s ridiculous. Ichiro himself gets to play for a good team that’s going to make the playoffs and maybe even the World Series.After all the miserable and never-ending losing that’s gone on in Seattle, it’s easy to allow him that. He deserves that.
They get to avoid the really messy and complicated scenario of phasing out a Hall of Fame caliber local hero. They get to play some young guys in the outfield a lot more often and they don’t have to answer icky questions about why Ichiro is riding the bench. The trade is a bit awkward but it’s a lot less awkward than what was on the horizon. Everyone is comfortable and happy now and the world is such a better place when we’re all less grumpy.
I’ll remember Ichiro for being a total original. He played the game in a way I’d never seen before him, and I don’t anticipate to see after. His first year, he lit the league on fire and he was a Mariner and it was awesome. He made contact with everything and he got like a million hits. He was fast as hell. He wore really weird clothes and said funny things. He swore like a sailor before the All-Star game. He had a laser, rocket arm. And now he’s a Yankee, and as much as it pains me to say it because come on, the Yankees are the worst, I’m rooting for him. I want him to succeed. I want him to win.
Players like Ichiro deserve success and they deserve to be appreciated. A career such as his deserves a chance at the World Series. It was and continues to be an amazing career. Honestly, there’s no way I’m able to encapsulate what Ichiro did and what he meant. I’ll leave that to more talented writers with more time on their hands. They’ll do a great job. All I can tell you is that I’m going to miss that weirdo.