Thoughts on Ichiro

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in

I woke up today to the news that Ichiro Suzuki had be traded. There is was, in blue and white, as a message on my iPhone: "Yankees Acquire Ichiro Suzuki". I re-read it again. And again. And it still didn't really sink in. Not only did Ichiro get traded, but it was to the Yankees? Was I still asleep?

I must admit, the first thought that ran through my head was that I'd have to stop collecting his cards. But after I got out of bed and started making breakfast five minutes later, I realised that was silly. Of course I'll keep collecting his cards, no matter the uniform. Besides, I get so damn many unwanted Yankees cards, it's time for a few I actually do want.

I read an article this weekend on the USS Mariner web site about how it was time for the Mariners to cut their ties with Ichiro at the end of the season. I didn't want to entertain that notion. I had this idea that Ichiro would get his 3,000th major league hit, his 4,193rd professional hit, and maybe even win a World Series (or at least a playoff series), all while wearing a Mariners uniform. Now, not even a week later, the M's didn't wait - they traded him to the team that just happened to be in town for a three-game series. Contrary to what the ESPN website seems to think, Ichiro did not help his new team beat his old team last night, unless you count going 1-for-4 and getting stranded at third base in a 4-1 game "helping"

I guess I should be happy for Ichiro. He's going from the league leader in losses to the league leader in wins, and he has a very real chance of going far in the post season. He's left the Mariners without a lot of the bad taste that Junior Griffey part deux put in everyone's mouth, and, like Griffey (and not like Alex Rodriguez), no matter what else he does in his career, he'll always be associated with the Mariners first and foremost. Five years after he retires, he'll become the second Mariner in the Hall of Fame (or third, if the Hall gets their act together on Edgar Martinez, or fourth, depending on what Randy Johnson decides).

More than that, without Ichiro's manifold success, players like Shin-Soo Choo, Hideki Matsui, and even to an extent pitchers like Hiroki Kuroda and Yu Darvish wouldn't have the big league careers they enjoy. It's hard to think now, but in 2001 there was a real feeling that while Japanese pitchers might be okay, position players wouldn't hold up to the "rigors" of a 162-game season. It seems like a ridiculous notion now. Hideo Nomo might have pried open the door, but Ichiro Suzuki kicked it down.

Besides, maybe he'll leave the Yankees after the season and play somewhere else. Oakland's got a nice big outfield...

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