Ichiro! the anti-celebrity
May be nothing you don’t know as an Ichiro! fan, but one fact jumped out at me — an indirect quote from his agent:
Attanasio figures the 31-year-old Ichiro turns down close to $30 million to $35 million in endorsements each year.
This article also seems to go to the heart of something we’ve written about before — that Ichiro! isn’t interested at all in celebrity, which is a strange and ugly thing (the better you are at your craft, or at least better-known, the more trouble you’ll have eating dinner in public). It’s not so much that he’s image-conscious as that he wishes to have no image beyond his on-field actions, and he’s dedicated to the perfection of his on-field actions.
The one thing that I caught that I don’t at all agree with is this, on Ichiro’s particular interview style, where he always uses his interpreter and thinks about each question:
But when his responses are interpreted back moments later, they are disappointingly devoid of any great insight.
That’s not really true. They’re like zen koans. Take for instance the two paired in the article:
“I think there is another level,” Ichiro says. “Where there’s a possibility, I just can’t see it right now. I think that’s the fun of baseball. You just don’t know if there’s a next level, you can’t see it. You just have to go and work at it.”
Does that mean there is a pressure to be perfect? Again Ichiro pauses.
“You know, I don’t think I know what a perfect player is,” he says. “You don’t know really what to do to get there. But you want to be that perfect player. I sometimes think you know you can’t be perfect as a baseball player. But I think there is always pressure on players to have confidence in themselves, who go out and try to play well. Of course, there is not going to be pressure on those who don’t have confidence. But there is always pressure.”
That’s not devoid of insight. If anything, compared to the easy cliches of a post-game Boone interview, they’re the path to enlightenment. I could write a whole other post on what Ichiro might mean here — and sometimes, I think what’s overlooked is that Ichiro gives the questions the answers they deserve. Talk to Ichiro about a single, and he’ll tell you he swung at a slider and ran it out, or something equally simple. Ask him about the relationship between a player and their equipment, and you might get a treatise (and your time extended).
Anyway, check it out. Ichiro! rules.