Ichiro is retiring (kinda) and baseball will never be the same

SEATTLE, WA - MAY 02: Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Seattle Mariners comes up to bat in the ninth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field on May 2, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. The Oakland Athletics won 3-2. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - MAY 02: Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Seattle Mariners comes up to bat in the ninth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field on May 2, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. The Oakland Athletics won 3-2. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images) /
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Ichiro is calling it a career — and what a goddamn career it was.

After 16-years of giving baseball fans much more than we all deserved, Ichiro is calling it a career. The Mariners legend and future Hall of Famer, who has been struggling this year in his return to Seattle, mutually decided that he would be of more use to his team off the field than he is on it.

Seattle announced on Thursday that Ichrio would be transitioning to a front office role with the team, effective immediately. It’s not a formal retirement but it sort of is. The team isn’t dedicating a roster spot to him anymore, but there’s still a chance he returns next season.

So “retirement” is a label that might not stick but it’s almost surely where this is headed.

The caveat is that Ichiro can come back to baseball in 2019 — something that many speculate he will, for at least one game. Next season the Mariners open the season in Tokyo, a game Ichiro could come back for and then hang it up officially in front of his countrymen.

For a guy who changed the sport on two different continents, there is no fitting way for him to end his career than to go home.

This is truly the closing of a chapter in baseball history that was unlike any we’d ever seen. Ichiro was The Beatles — he came to America and became a sensation that baseball needed. Moreover, he meant something to Mariners fans who needed someone to help them climb out of the ashes of the Ken Griffey Jr era.

Unfortunately, some will try to remember Ichiro’s career as one filled with half-realized dreams. He was the face of the record-tying 2001 Mariners team that won 116-games, a team that didn’t win a World Series. Never winning a ring shouldn’t define what Ichiro meant to baseball, and there will be plenty of time over these next few days to wax poetic about his impact.

For now, let’s just take time to appreciate that we will never see anything like Ichiro ever again in baseball — and be happy that we were around to witness him.