McGrath: Ichiro Crippled Reed, Cost Mariners Share of First Place

Jeff · July 3, 2006 at 11:53 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Do you know why the Mariners lost last night? Do you know why Jeremy Reed got hurt? No, you freaking don’t. But John McGrath does. It was Ichiro’s fault.

No, really.

The afternoon’s most painful mistake – it resulted in the broken right thumb of center fielder Jeremy Reed – was also its most preventable. There were two outs and one on in the top of the 11th inning when Mariners coach Mike Goff tried to persuade right fielder Ichiro Suzuki to take a few steps toward center. Colorado’s Brad Hawpe, a left-handed hitter, was at the plate, and Goff figured Hawpe would not be inclined pull the ball against the lefty Guardado.

Goff motioned from the dugout, but Ichiro either didn’t see him or didn’t care to respond. Goff motioned some more, and Ichiro finally budged, repositioning himself by maybe a half of a step.

Hawpe fulfilled Goff’s premonition, driving a liner into the right-center gap. There appeared to be a split-second of indecision between the converging outfielders, then Reed made an attempt at a diving catch, at which point three bad things happened: The ball escaped Reed’s glove, Reed fractured his thumb, and the Rockies took a 3-2 lead which they soon extended to 4-2.

Of course, if Ichiro had been positioned where Goff wanted him positioned, it’s a routine catch and the Mariners are out of the jam. But asking Ichiro to move is like ordering a cat to get off the window sill and sit.

So, McGrath not only pins the loss on Ichiro not shifting, he uses this occasion to make a larger point about a surly, inflexible outfielder who apparently maliciously ignored the bench coach.

In other news, Ichiro likes to slip out of right field between innings, getting teenage girls pregnant behind the Hit it Here Cafe and selling orphans crack-laced shiskaberries.

Fortunately for McGrath, this accusation has the ring of terrible truth. After all, the objective strains of journalism echo throughout this piece, as they might not if — say — the author had weirdly advocated trading the star, calling him a “selfish player,” among other things.

Unfortunately, McGrath actually missed the big scoop here. Reed’s thumb was actually fine, but Ichiro told the kid to go put some ice on it in the dugout.

Then, figuring the team would be better off with him in center field anyway, Machiavellian genius Ichiro hit Reed’s thumb with a steel chair, likely ending his season. Nothing personal, kid, just business.

I have it on good authority.

Now, Ichiro needs to work on his goatee. Grow it out really long, like an evil twin. Or perhaps one of those long, Rollie Fingers-esque mustaches that he can twirl the end of. Then he can take on full Republic serial villain status, and record a message revealing his nefarious plot never to move, not even if Mike Goff or John McGrath tell him to. The message will cover his vile schemes to injure Reed, to impregnate various Safeco patrons with a race of evil Super-Ichiros, and to learn every song in the Alanis Morrisette canon.

“The only thing I’ll move for you, McGrath,” he would say, “is my bowels.”

He can schedule the video to play right before the bottom of the ninth, interrupting John Belushi’s rant from Animal House. And then he can race out to right field, refusing to move, just as Paul Orndorff refused to tag Hulk Hogan. The fans, led by John McGrath, will lustily boo, and McGrath can take satisfaction in having played Jonah Jameson to Ichiro’s Spider Man. He’ll get the Pulitzer for peeling back Ichiro’s thin veneer of humanity. The fans will turn on their formerly-beloved star.

Or maybe Ichiro will finish the year at .360, play great defense and contribute to numerous wins, all the while conducting himself with dignity and grace.

Either way, the results should be moving.


40 Responses to “McGrath: Ichiro Crippled Reed, Cost Mariners Share of First Place”

  1. Jeff Nye on July 3rd, 2006 12:29 pm

    I’m speechless. That is the worst excuse for “journalism” I’ve ever seen.

    And I thought the article on CNNSI about how the All-Star voting was “just fine” because “it’s for the fans” was bad.

  2. BLYKMYK44 on July 3rd, 2006 12:41 pm

    The nerve of John McGrath!! Doesn’t he know that Ichiro is infallible?

  3. msb on July 3rd, 2006 12:46 pm

    well, I do have to point out that McGrath isn’t claiming to be a “journalist” … I’ve never been sure what McGrath’s thing is about Ichiro– if he really thinks the things he writes or if he just knows that mentioning Ichiro will get people to read his work

    thinking back there was the ‘I can fix your swing’ column around the 1000 hit stretch, the Ichiro Is Selfish (for pursuing Sisler’s record– like there was anything else to watch that month), the Put Ichiro in Center column (but only because Winn was obviously uneasy in the spotlight of centerfield), the Ichiro Should Lay Off on the Cardplayers and oh yeah Learn English too column….

  4. Huskermariner on July 3rd, 2006 12:46 pm

    If Choo is coming up, any reporting on where he would play (CF, RF, riding the bench until WFB needs a day off)?

  5. mark s. on July 3rd, 2006 12:48 pm

    the team lost last night because it could not create a run with 3 on and 1 out.

    the team lost last night because hargrove didn’t pull washburn when everyone in the stands knew he should have been pulled at the end of the 6th, and a 2-1 lead.

    Ichiro did so much to help the team win last night. Hitting a triple. Hitting a HR. Throwing a stike from RF to stop a run from scoring.

    When McGrath dies, this piece will be added to his judgement.

  6. thehiddentrack on July 3rd, 2006 12:49 pm

    Knowing how the Mariners operate, I’ll be shocked if Choo isn’t the centerfielder.

  7. DMZ on July 3rd, 2006 12:50 pm

    Choo’s call-up has its own post now.

  8. Mat on July 3rd, 2006 12:58 pm

    If I had to make a list of things that indicate poor analysis, I think that “villifying a team’s best player” might just top that list.

  9. BLYKMYK44 on July 3rd, 2006 1:04 pm

    Someone out there needs to call out Ichiro for being too selfish to move to Center Field. McGrath might not be doing it the right way, but it is silly that the team lets him dictate what he does and where he does it

  10. Karen on July 3rd, 2006 1:13 pm

    Sometimes, when a person used to be one of the best, most readable, cogent writers/columnists years ago, and he turns into some sort of curmudgeonly ax-grinder, there’s something internal going on. Like he’s off his rocker, or off his meds.

    I can’t fathom any other reason for John McGrath’s writing the past year or two….

  11. Tek Jansen on July 3rd, 2006 1:13 pm

    I did like the fact that McGrath called out Hargrove for not using Perez on various occaisions.

    But blaming the loss and Reed’s injury on Ichiro is truly stupid. First, Reed is prone to injuring himself without help from Ichiro. Second, any slight defensive gaffe in positioning was far outweighed by the contributions Ichiro made. (To be fair, McGrath mentioned those.)

  12. adroit on July 3rd, 2006 1:33 pm

    “…just as Paul Orndorff refused to tag Hulk Hogan.”

    Phenomenal reference. Kudos, Jeff.

  13. Jack Howland on July 3rd, 2006 1:43 pm

    I think it is equally as bad that Goff made reference to this in the post game. It seems like he threw Ichiro under the bus on this one when he could have just kept his mouth shut.

  14. J.L. on July 3rd, 2006 2:02 pm

    Enough lambasting McGrath and his ridiculous assertions about Ichiro(!). Sure, he’s a nut, but his Fish House is to die for. I want to talk more about Evil Ichiro! and his plans for world domination. How does purposefully injuring Reed fufill his plans? I think this was just a small step into a much larger scheme. By refusing to move over a few feet, Ichiro! showed that any request from the M’s brass will result in an injury to the centerfielder.

    I see Ichiro! using the threat of not moving over as means to slowly take control of the team, out of fear of what harm Ichiro! can do if his demands aren’t meant. As his influence extends across the world, he topples numerous goverments by organizing the citizenry to refuse to move over to their right. After finally being crowned King of the World, Ichiro! first act is to have Mike Hargrove named Court Jester, and have pies flung at his face for the rest of time.

    Am I the only one who sees this?

  15. Coach Owens on July 3rd, 2006 2:04 pm

    That’s weird the real Ichiro won’t move and I have a cat named after Ichiro who doesn’t move if you tell him to no matter how much.

  16. leetinsleyfanclub on July 3rd, 2006 2:13 pm

    I have to admit, at times (it’s usually when he is struggling) I get on an Ichiro-ain’t-that-great bandwagon. His seeming unwillingness to take pitches, hit in another spot in the order, switch positions, and general lack of emotion get under my skin at times and I start to think of him as a robotic and selfish player. But he always reels me back in with the hot month, the great throw, something. The guy is special and while he can sometimes come across as a guy who only does things his way and not a team guy, his single-mindedness makes him the player he is. And the player he is helps the M’s win games.

  17. Dave on July 3rd, 2006 2:24 pm

    Just curious Lee, but why is “your way” better than “his way”?

    He tried taking more pitches last year when Hargrove asked him to. It didn’t work.

    They’ve moved him around in the order, but he’s so good hitting leadoff, there’s no reason to have him hit anywhere else.

    If his lack of emotion bothers you, what do you feel about Greg Maddux? Tim Duncan? Big Blue?

    His way is perfect for him. Asking him to fit into another mold, despite his greatness, just so that we’ll like him more, is pretty ethnocentric.

  18. scraps on July 3rd, 2006 2:36 pm

    Someone out there needs to call out Ichiro for being too selfish to move to Center Field.

    Right, it’s not like we need proof that this has actually happened or anything.

    Doesn’t he know that Ichiro is infallible?

    Are you impressed with your straw man? Because I doubt anyone else is.

  19. Joe on July 3rd, 2006 2:48 pm

    Yeah, I have to say this takes far more space on the USSM front page than the underlying stupidity deserves. I don’t know if McGrath hates Ichiro for some reason, is a (not so) secret racist, or just wants to have his own whipping boy (a la the NY Post and ARod) to get people talking about him and his “writing.” Nor do I care.

    Yeah, Ichiro could have stood somewhere else on the field, and the ball could have been hit somewhere else too. Or Reed could have not hesitated before going after it. Did Ichiro ignore signs from the coaches? How often (if ever) has he done that in the past? For all I know this is one of the few times he’s been wrong and they’ve been right (if indeed that’s what transpired; I’m certainly not convinced of it). But this wouldn’t even be an issue if the game hadn’t been so badly mismanaged that one bloop single made all the difference.

  20. Joe on July 3rd, 2006 2:51 pm

    I don’t read the TNT but I had the general impression it had a better sports dept than the Seattle dead-fish-wrap. I’m a little saddened to see that’s evidently not the case. Ah well, they’re all going to be hanging out with the buggy-whip makers and 8-track tape repairmen in a few years.

  21. pinball1973 on July 3rd, 2006 3:14 pm

    Like I need any further reasons to consider sportswriters as a cursed, envious, and stubbornly stupid subset of baseball humanity, interested only in the destruction of the sport that feeds them?

    Please do not encourage my prejudices, unnecessarily, however disgusting many find their mating and bathing habits to be!

    P.s. I am surprised to find in this thread that that the original strain of Ichiro-bashers has survived! I’d thought that six seasons of extremely hot baseball would have killed off all of this annoying, if basically harmless, breed of non-fan.

  22. leetinsleyfanclub on July 3rd, 2006 3:30 pm


    You are absolutely right. I admit I’m wrong and somewhat rueful for sometimes getting frustrated with Ichiro. I truly believe his way is ultimately the right way … for him and the team, and my post was actually meant to support him.

    I suppose the perceived lack of emotion issue didn’t bother me too much until this year, when I saw him getting jacked up at the WBC playing for his country. While I understand why playing for one’s country would be an extra motivator, I guess I was disappointed that Ichiro hadn’t shown any semblance of that same type of fire in the past 2-3 season’s with the M’s, especially when it seemed like they desperately needed some leadership and some personality.

    As I said before, this bothered me at the beginning of the season when the team was losing again and Ichiro was struggling. I haven’t thought about it again in two months until today. I honestly appreciate the guy and would really miss him if I didn’t get to see him play every day.

  23. Karen on July 3rd, 2006 3:57 pm

    l.t.f.c. said: I guess I was disappointed that Ichiro hadn’t shown any semblance of that same type of fire in the past 2-3 seasons with the M’s, especially when it seemed like they desperately needed some leadership and some personality.

    Huh. I guess I look at Ichiro a different way than you, ’cause I think he has tons of personality, and he has his own way of leadership, by example. For instance, there have been a few — not enough, really — teammates who’ve said they try to follow his various routines of preparation for games, and they’ve felt more flexible, etc. for it. His style of hitting certainly isn’t a template for everybody, and I’m glad to see THAT’S not slavishly copied. It’s pretty unique.

    As for showing “fire”, you have to admit anyone who’s invested part of his life and talent and skill to live and work in a foreign country might be a bit disappointed to find out his immediate boss (and he probably suspects some higher-ups, too) is a complete idiot. But his culture, not to mention an understanding of baseball etiquette, prevents him from doing to Goff and Hargrove what Goff just did to him…

  24. leetinsleyfanclub on July 3rd, 2006 4:19 pm

    Karen, no doubt. I do admire Ichiro for having not aired out his frustrations with certain players or managers. He’s too smart for that. It just would be nice to see him pumping his fist and yelling in the M’s dugout the way he did at the WBC. I love seeing great players get fired up like that and now that I know he definitely has it in him I want to see more of it.

  25. Cohkey on July 3rd, 2006 4:23 pm

    Wow, that rant was a bit strong for what was a pretty mild piece of criticism. Lay off McGrath, he wasn’t burning Ichiro at the stake at all, just highlighting a small piece of the game that might otherwise have gone unnoticed by fans. That is what a good reporter does by the way.

    There was nothing offensive in there or anything worthy of making McGrath out to be a dark overlord or whatever that was. Even Ichiro makes mistakes, and even Ichiro is worthy of some criticism every once in a while.

  26. penguin on July 3rd, 2006 4:30 pm

    #24 – You might get to see that if the M’s ever get into the Series. Ichiro didn’t really show that much emotion while he was playing for the Orix BlueWave, but we have seen him jumping up and down for hitting a walk-off inside-the-park homer during the Japan Series. The WBC was a special case. It meant a lot to him, and he needed that intensity to push his team forward. Besides, we have Kenji for that if you really like seeing the players express themselves. Kenji is very expressive and animated. He is the opposite of Ichiro. Yet I like them both.

    #25 – It’s McGrath’s track record, not neccasariliy just this piece. The subtext is pretty clear – Ichiro doesn’t listen to his coaches, he is selfish, etc.

  27. Jim Thomsen on July 3rd, 2006 4:31 pm

    Okay, now that we’ve burned enough time dodging the issue … did anybody else see the Reed-injury play the way McGrath did?

    How did you interpret what happened?

  28. sojourner on July 3rd, 2006 4:32 pm

    Hatchet. Job. a lot of suppositions there for the day after Ichiro was named to the all star team.

  29. scraps on July 3rd, 2006 4:34 pm

    You think blaming a player’s injury on another player’s supposed refusal to follow orders — a refusal that he says is constant (“asking Ichiro to move is like ordering a cat to get off the window sill and sit”) is “mild criticism”?

  30. flippy on July 3rd, 2006 5:34 pm

    I have 3 comments on this subject:

    1. Reed’s injury will be a blessing in disguise for this ballclub.

    2. If he had moved a couple of steps closer Ichiro may have actually collided with Reed. Maybe Ichiro is out 4-6 weeks instead of Reed.

    3. Given some of the quality decisions that the M’s managers have made, I’m not so sure listening to them is the best of options.

  31. Nick in Taiwan on July 3rd, 2006 5:35 pm

    this kind of nonsense will lose us our star. assinine.

  32. Cohkey on July 3rd, 2006 5:46 pm

    Seriously, read the whole piece and take that small part about Ichiro in context. It loses a lot of its bite when read in whole. I just don’t see the strong reaction, especially “… getting teenage girls pregnant behind the Hit it Here Cafe and selling orphans crack-laced shiskaberries.” Geez, is the guy not allowed to voice his opinion without being compared to Satan?

    And #31, if Ichiro walks because of press criticism, I’ll send him a Tampax and a box of tissues so he can wipe away the tears. C’mon! The Seattle press is sooo tame compared to most everywhere else. Seriously, I read a critical article about one every two weeks and they’re usually pretty fair. Just be thankful Seattle doesn’t have one of those celebrity columnists like Jay Mariotti or one of those hacks.

    Art Thiel, McGrath, Larry Stone and, in my opinion, Jim Moore are a pretty good crop of columnists. Now, if we can only do something about that damn Steve Kelly …

  33. dan@jackson on July 3rd, 2006 5:50 pm

    Jim, I had a good view, actually, sitting in the fifth row back at Section 116 which is between Sexson and Ichiro. I wasn’t paying any attention to Goff. Who was? The ball was hit right between Reed and Ichiro, and, yes, there was a moment of indecision between the two. What I dont understand is Reed not either making it clear he was going to take it, or calling for Ichiro (who looked like he had a better angle on it) to take it. I thought the CF was supposed to be the captain out there.

  34. Brian Rust on July 3rd, 2006 5:58 pm

    If Ichiro’s plan for world domination involves his ascendance to emperor, McGrath will be reduced to pointing out he has no clothes.

  35. Karen on July 3rd, 2006 6:02 pm

    #32. To be honest, I don’t think Ichiro reads John McGrath, Steve Kelley, Ron Judd, or any of the knee-jerk “columnists”. And I imagine he reads any of hte others you listed as “pretty good” only after he’s decided in clubhouse interviews that they have basic intelligence and a handle on what constitutes good baseball.

    Gee, maybe Larry Stone or Larry LaRue could managed the M’s…hmm…

  36. Karen on July 3rd, 2006 6:03 pm

    “manage”, not “managed”.

  37. mln on July 3rd, 2006 6:29 pm

    See, Ichiro is a clubhouse cancer!

    Get rid of him.

    DFA Ichiro ASAP. 😉

  38. scraps on July 3rd, 2006 6:45 pm

    Geez, is the guy not allowed to voice his opinion without being compared to Satan?

    What do you mean, “not allowed”? Look, the guy makes a living by having opinions. This one was obnoxious, blaming Reed’s injury on Ichiro’s supposed stubbornness, unsupported by so much as a quote. Theoretically he’s a journalist. Sure he gets to express his opinion; we get to call them bullshit, too. Pointing out that he’s being a horse’s ass, and making money with unsupported character bashing, is a far cry from calling him Satan.

    Some of the folks who are telling other folks to calm down ought to calm down themselves. What we say here is going to have a fraction of the effect on McGrath’s reputation that McGrath can have on Ichiro’s.

  39. plivengood on July 4th, 2006 4:25 pm

    Jim, Dan:

    Good question (whether anybody else saw the play the way McGrath did). I did not see the play (was listening on the radio), and still haven’t seen a replay, but my first reaction was NOT to blame Ichiro, despite Goff’s toss under the bus, but to wonder why Reed wasn’t doing what any good CF is supposed to do, which is to go hard for any ball he can get to unless and until called off; not to mention that the call is his if he feels he can get to it. Centerfielders are not supposed to hesitate, wondering whether a rightfielder will go get the ball. Of course, Ichiro is a pretty special case, but . . ..

  40. Lauren, token chick on July 5th, 2006 12:56 am

    A Tampax! Hilarious. I love it.

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