It’s hard to digest the fact that Ichiro is no longer a Mariner. It is even harder to understand that he is now a Yankee. The team that the majority of Mariners’ fans love to hate, actually the team that the majority of the MLB fan base loves to hate, now has one of Seattle’s icons. Ichiro now joins Raul Ibanez, Alex Rodriguez, Freddie Garcia, Rafael Soriano and Michael Pineda as former Mariners who now don pin-stripes when they trot out of the clubhouse.
Of those former Mariners that I mentioned only three of them (Garcia, Pineda and Suzuki) are the one who are missed (or going to be missed) by Mariner fans. Soriano and Rodriguez aren’t going to be missed very much in the Emerald City. As for Garcia Seattle got to see some of his best performances from 2001-2003 and it was fantastic and Pineda’s one season in Seattle was a beauty to behold. But nothing (not even Raul Ibanez’s consistency) is comparable to the brilliant 11 and half year Mariner career of Ichiro Suzuki.
|Credit MLB Memes on Facebook|
Ichiro arrived in time for the spring training before the 2001 season and there was plenty of skepticism about what the slap-stick hitter from Japan could do in the MLB. 241 hits, an AL MVP and Rookie of the Year award later those questions were answered. He won a gold glove and had over 200 hits in his first 10 seasons in the majors. After 10 seasons he was 37 at the end of the year and some believed that even age could not slow down Ichiro.
We were fooled. Everyone’s body begins to slow down. And for Ichiro that slowing down started at the age of 38, his 11th season in the Majors, and right around the time the Mariners made the move to become a younger, rebuilding ball club. This feels like the catalyst for what has transpired in the last couple of days. Ichiro realized that eventually he was going to be in the way of some younger player; he also realized that if he stayed with the Mariners he probably wouldn’t get to see the post season again in his career. He requested a trade to a contending team and he got it.
For me Ichi’s departure hurts, it hurts worse than when Griffey was traded. It hurts worse than when A-Rod played with M’s management and then signed a deal with Texas. It hurts worse because I actually remember his rise. I actually remember most of his career as a Mariner. Ichiro was the guy who I thought would always don the M’s uniform. The thought never crossed my mind because I always thought that he would be there, be here.
Now he’s not. He is now a member of the enemy. The one team that I cannot stand, one of three fan bases I have trouble dealing with. It’s hard to think of Ichiro not wearing number 51 and patrolling right field at Safeco anymore. But it is our new reality, as uncomfortable as it is. It is something we will have to become accustomed to until Ichi retires.
Since it is now impossible for Ichiro to spend his entire career in a M’s uniform, I have one request of him and the M’s front office. I request (I sincerely hope) that Ichi and the M’s can agree on a one day contract so that he can at least retire as a Seattle Mariner.