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Ichiro thanks Amy Franz, fan who invented the ‘Ichimeter,’ with gifts and a note

Anyone who has watched a Seattle Mariners home game over the past eight years may have taken note of the “Ichimeter.” The Ichimeter is a hit-counter that was invented by Mariners Amy Franz in 2004, when it was used to count Ichiro’s hits on his way to an MLB record 262 hits in a single season. Over the past several seasons, the Ichimeter has been used to count the total amount of hits Ichiro has in his MLB career.

On Tuesday, Ichiro decided to thank Franz for her loyal service in operating the Ichimeter all those years by sending her a thank you package. Franz proudly shared the goods on Twitter, which included some autographed items and the thank you note that you see below.

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Ichiro says he is grateful to experience the pain of losing in the postseason

For those of you who may have blinked and missed it, the Yankees made it to the ALCS this year. After battling against the Orioles in a dramatic ALDS series, New York was embarrassed by the Tigers by way of a four-game sweep in which they never led for an inning. Whether it was the injury to Derek Jeter or the slumps of Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano, the Yankees looked like they didn’t even want to be there.

At least one player appreciated the experience, no matter how painful it may have been. After New York’s 8-1 loss in Game 4 on Thursday, Ichiro Suzuki gave the following comments through his translator.

“I’m very disappointed the season ended,” Ichiro said according to the NY Post. “But this time the Yankees gave me, I’m so grateful for. The feelings you have, the satisfaction and hurt, is something I hadn’t experienced in a while. So to even experience this pain right now, I’m so grateful for.”

Ichiro hadn’t appeared in the postseason since 2001 and has been a part of some awful Mariners teams over the last decade or so, so you can understand why getting swept in the playoffs beats a 65-win season for him. That being said, the fans hardly feel the same. Nick Swisher felt a different kind of pain when playing at Yankee Stadium in the ALCS, and Yankee fans are disgusted as a whole. If 2012 winds up being the last time the soon-to-be 39-year-old Ichiro appears in a playoff game, we’re glad he enjoyed the experience. The fans of New York certainly didn’t.

Ichiro scores first Yankees run by avoiding tag with incredible moves (Video)

Ichiro Suzuki scored the first run of the ALDS Game 2 between the Yankees and Orioles by making some incredible moves to avoid a tag at home.

The Yankees left fielder was trying to score from first on a two-out double by Robinson Cano in the first when the throw home clearly beat him. Ichiro swung out wide to avoid catcher Matt Wieters, and then he leaped over the diving catcher’s tag attempt to touch home plate for the run.

It was some incredible base running by Ichiro, and just the sort of boost the Yankees were hoping to receive when they acquired him from the Mariners.

As awesome as that play by Ichiro was, it still has nothing on the best slide ever.

David Cone calls Ichiro’s bat a ‘chopstick’

Cy Young Award winner and current Yankees TV analyst David Cone referred to outfielder Ichiro Suzuki’s bat as a “chopstick” on the telecast during the Yankees-Red Sox game on Tuesday night.

“Probably a ball, but Suzuki with the chopstick,” Cone said while watching a replay of Ichiro’s at-bat.

Suzuki reached for an outside pitch and grounded a ball to the shortstop in the 11th inning. The Yankees won 4-3 in the 12th, but Cone’s remark stood out.

H/T Jimmy Traina
Video via @CJZero

Ichiro says he is looking forward to the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry

The rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees is arguably the most heated and historic in all of sports. When thinking about it, images of Jason Varitek and Alex Rodriguez brawling or Pedro Martinez tossing Don Zimmer probably race through your head. Is it possible to fit Ichiro into the equation? The former Mariners outfielder says he is looking forward to it.

“When I watched those games on TV they looked like fighting, not in a real sense, but physically,” he said according to the NY Post. “It was more like a fighting atmosphere is what I felt watching TV. I know there is a lot of tradition. I have just been here a few days. I don’t know what to expect.”

If he’s not looking for actual fighting, Ichiro probably joined the rivalry at the right time. However, he may not get a battle between two AL East powerhouses either. The Yankees are one of the best teams in baseball and the Red Sox continue to struggle to remain above .500. They are 10.5 games out of first place and tied for last in the AL East. If I were a betting man, I’d wager that Ichiro’s Yankees-Red Sox rivalry experience will involve a lot of pinstripe success and very little spark from the Boston side.

Ichiro requested trade from Mariners at All-Star break

A historic era in Seattle ended on Monday when Ichiro Suzuki was shockingly traded to the New York Yankees. Ichiro was a franchise legend for the Mariners. He came over to Seattle from Japan in 2001 when he was 27 and led the league in hits, batting average, and stolen bases. He won Rookie of the Year and MVP, a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award, and became an All-Star. He made the All-Star team 10 straight times and led the AL in hits seven times.

But the Mariners, which made four playoff appearances from 1995-2001, lost much more with Ichiro than they won. After leading MLB with 116 wins in 2001, the Mariners never made it back to the postseason. They finished last in the AL West six of the next 10 seasons, and the losing had worn on Suzuki. Feeling that the rebuilding Mariners would be better served dealing him for prospects, and desiring to play for a winner, Ichiro approached the Mariners during the All-Star break to ask for a trade.

The Mariners obliged and dealt him to the Yankees on Monday for pitchers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar. Seattle fans are frustrated with the deal; not only are the Mariners paying part of the $6.7 million remaining on Suzuki’s salary, but they only got back two middling prospects in return. What’s worse is that both prospects were pitchers and that doesn’t even address the Mariners’ dreadful offense.

Mariners executives said they wanted to give Ichiro a chance to play for a contender before his career ends. They did that by dealing him to the Yankees who have the best record in MLB. And thanks to a three-game series between the teams, Suzuki didn’t have to travel to join his new club.

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Jay Buhner says he would ‘vomit’ if the Mariners give Ichiro a big contract

Ichiro Suzuki has been the face of the Mariners for several years, but he’s turning 39 years old in October and in the final year of his contract. As would be the case with most players in their late-30s, Suzuki’s numbers are rapidly declining. The Mariners outfielder finished the season last year with a .272 average — the first time he failed to hit over .300 in his 11-year MLB career. This season, he is hitting just .259 with only 13 stolen bases. Now, Seattle has to figure out what to do with him.

Mariners legend Jay Buhner is hoping his former team doesn’t make an emotional decision when Suzuki’s contract expires at the end of the season. When asked what he would say if the Mariners offered Ichiro a three-year deal worth around $35 million, Buhner expressed disgust.

“I’d vomit,” Buhner told ESPN 710′s “Brock and Salk Show” according to The Seattle Times. “I mean, really, no offense. No offense, we’ve got to get this organization turned around. You can’t be spending all the money on one guy.

“But at the same time, they need help desperately. They need some veteran leadership in the clubhouse. Wedgie (manager Eric Wedge) can’t keep growing the beard, growing the mustache, shaving it off, that’s not the answer.”

Jay is right. A veteran presence would be nice — for the right amount of years and dollars. The problem the Mariners have is that Ichiro is a franchise icon and fan inspiration. Seattle ranks 26th in the league in average attendance this season, so the last thing they need to do is give more fans a reason to stop showing up. That being said, they also can’t afford to be dedicating a large chunk of their payroll to players who are going to fall off the map very shortly. If Ichiro is not willing to take a one or two-year deal for little money, Seattle needs to let him walk. Otherwise they’ll have this problem on their hands.

H/T Big League Stew
Photo credit: Christopher Hanewinckel, US PRESSWIRE