Ichiro Suzuki traded to the NY Yankees
Really, it was only a matter of time before this blog title had to be written. The New York Yankees have more than perfected the art of acquiring (hoarding?) the sports best players and Ichiro has been, without question, one of the all-time greatest players in Major League Baseball history. As a lifetime Seattle Mariners fan, though none of us wanted to admit it, deep down we all knew this day would come. It doesn’t mean we have to be happy about it.
I learned about the trade after checking in to the Red Lion hotel in Pasco and plopping down onto the bed after a day of driving. Two channels into the flipping process and there is Ichiro’s head with a graphic about the trade. It was the live press conference and though I wanted to find a movie to pass the time until my conference began, I couldn’t turn away. My first thoughts surprised me, as I had always assumed I would be upset if the M’s ever traded the face of their franchise. But the more I listened to the press conference, the more I found myself agreeing with the decision and looking forward to the prospect of being a future Mariners fan.
When Ichiro debuted in 2001, I was in basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and my dad would mail me box scores clipped from the Spokesman-Review. One of the highlights of my time in Basic and AIT was when Dad mailed me the Sports Illustrated issue with Ichiro on the cover.
I followed that season on paper only, and probably know more about that season than any since that I’ve watched on TV. It was one of the lifelines of reality that kept me going through basic training, a time in which you are deprived of nearly any connection to the outside world. Ever since, I’d been a huge fan of Ichiro’s; I own nearly a dozen Ichiro jersey’s for Pete’s sake. Lou Pinella was the coach back then, if that tells you how long Ichiro has been a part of our organization.
As a fan of the Seattle Mariners, my loyalty lies with the team…not necessarily one particular player. In fact, it was only a year ago I mentioned to my wife that Ichiro is on the downside of his career peak. I said to her if the Mariners were smart, they would deal him before he got injured or had consecutive poor seasons which would diminish his trade value.
Clearly they were smart because they did exactly that. I never for a second thought that Ichiro would go to any other team but the New York Yankees. I don’t know if there are any Mariners fans who ever did (could you see Ichiro in a Royals jersey?). We knew the day would come, and we knew the suitor would be New York. And frankly, I’m okay with that.
Personally, I find Ichiro very condescending and although his performance on the field arguably saved our franchise in the new millenium, his attitude off the field was nearly on par with Erik Bedard’s. Ideally, I would have loved it if Ichiro’s off-field persona was more like Shigetoshi Hasegawa’s, who made no secret of his love for the United States and our culture. But Ichrio refused to speak English during interviews even though he knew the language. Even at his goodbye press conference he refused to answer in English even though he knows the language after 11 years in-country. Though I wish him the best, I also tip my hat at a great career and the great legacy he left in Seattle, knowing that he is a declining star that could go supernova and disappear at any moment.
With that, I eagerly await word on what or who we were able to acquire in return for his trade. Like Ichiro did for us back in 2001, the next generation of Mariners greats are waiting in the wings for their chance to shine. This is the moment of their ascention, and I’m looking forward to it with all the anticipation of any true fan.