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

Ichiro’s parents run an Ichiro museum in Japan

Don’t look now, but the MLB regular season kicks off next week with the A’s and Mariners doing a two-game stint in Japan. The media is already over in the Land of the Rising Sun filing reports. That includes Seattle Times reporter Geoff Baker’s piece on an Ichiro museum owned and operated by Ichiro’s own parents in Toyoyama.

Nobuyuki and Yoshie Suzuki have run the business for a decade and at least one of them is present and greeting visitors every day. Inside you’ll find the Mariners outfielder’s major awards as well as items and photos from as far back as his early childhood.

There are family photographs of 1-month-old Ichiro Suzuki being held by his grandmother, of Ichiro on a sixth-grade field trip, of Ichiro pony riding with his father at a local racetrack. And then, there is the desk Ichiro used to do his homework in elementary school.

The desk has been set up with a mannequin — depicting a younger Ichiro — sitting at a chair with a jacket with a Men’s Vache Club label tossed over it.

Sounds totally fascinating and like the ultimate destination for the Ichiro stalkers die-hards. But I can think of one thing the museum is missing: Rob Dibble’s butt tattoo.

H/T Hardball Talk
Photo credit: Christopher Hanewinckel, US Presswire

Ichiro Impersonator Tries to Make a Play on a Hit Down the Line (Video)

Wait, I’m confused. First of all, why is Ichiro sitting in the stands and not in the dugout while his team is up at the plate?  Secondly, why isn’t he allowed to touch the baseball?  Thirdly, why is he helping the other team?  Come on Ichiro, your team was just about to have a man on third with two outs.  Why would you pick up the ball and make him stay at second?  Maybe I missed something here.

But Did He Argue in Japanese or English?

Imagine my surprise to see the headline Saturday that Ichiro Suzuki had been ejected from his game against the Blue Jays for arguing balls and strikes. Let’s think about this for a second. Ichiro doesn’t do interviews in English — he has a translator with him. So how did he argue with the umpire to the point that he was ejected? Did he use subtitles? Body language? Throw out a few choice cuss words? The AP says he used his actions to show his dismay, drawing a line with his bat to show that the pitch was outside. Well that definitely makes a lot more sense. Could you really picture a calm, humble athlete like Ichiro getting run for arguing a call? It just doesn’t seem like his style. Maybe he sounded like this:

Analyzing Ichiro’s Amazing Walk-Off Home Run to Beat Mariano Rivera

Yankees Mariners BaseballIf you haven’t seen Ichiro’s miracle blast against Mariano Rivera from Friday night, do yourself a favor and watch it now because it was awesome. The Mariners were down 2-1 in the 9th against the Yankees and Rivera had struck out the first two batters he faced. Mike Sweeney then hit a pinch-hit double, bringing up Ichiro to the plate. Let’s go beyond the boxscore to detail how improbable Ichiro’s walk-off home run was:

    > Ichiro hit the first pitch out, a patented Rivera cutter
    > It was the second straight game Ichiro ended with a walk-off hit (he had just one in his career prior to Thursday)
    > Rivera had converted 36 straight saves
    > Rivera hadn’t blown a save against the Mariners since 1997 (27 straight)
    > The Yankees had been 155-1 when leading after 8 innings the past two seasons
    > It gave Felix Hernandez his 16th win of the season, keeping him in the Cy Young race

The ending to the game really won’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things considering the Yankees are still going to take the AL East and the Mariners still won’t make the playoffs, but the big blow speaks to the quality of player Ichiro is. Not just anyone can beat Mariano Rivera in the 9th inning — on a cutter no less; it just doesn’t happen very often. Yet a guy who’s not even a power hitter still took Rivera deep in the 9th with two outs. Ichiro showed once again how truly elite he is — he’s a one-of-a-kind ballplayer and we’re lucky to have witnessed his brilliance.