Brad Lefton in the New York Times on Ichiro, technique, infield hits, and flirtation:
â€œChicks who dig home runs arenâ€™t the ones who appeal to me,â€ he said. â€œI think thereâ€™s sexiness in infield hits because they require technique. Iâ€™d rather impress the chicks with my technique than with my brute strength. Then, every now and then, just to show I can do that, too, I might flirt a little by hitting one out.â€
The man is a machine.
For the eighth-consecutive year, Ichiro has recorded 200+ hits. Ichiro has eight of the 11 200-hit seasons in Marinersâ€™ historyÂ and tonightâ€™s game brings him up to 1792 hits over his MLB careerâ€”268 more than the next closest player, Derek Jeter, over that span. You can even spot Jeter an extra year and Ichiro still comes out on top!
The milestone ties Ichiro with Wee Willie Keeler for most-consecutive 200-hit seasons and the only players to ever collect more in their career are Pete Rose with 10 and Ty Cobb with nine.
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.
Ichiro is a class act. It makes me realize how lucky I am to be a fan of the Mariners, and get to see him play every game.
Today on ESPN.com, Phil Rogers and Sean McAdam debate whether Albert Pujols or Ichiro! would be a better franchise cornerstone to build around. Actually, “debate” is the wrong word, since there’s no real direct engagement between the two pieces. Really, they are just paeans to two great players that happen to run beside each other.
McAdam, who takes the side of truth and justice, leaves out one of the best pro-Ichiro reasons: there’s no “Pujols 262 Bobblehead Night” for me to attend.
By the way, if someone pies Bud Selig, tonight, well, it’s not me — but I might be applauding from my seat and taking pictures.
Also, welcome back, Peter.
I’m in Cooperstown, New York doing research. It’s my first trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and while I might write up a longer post on the whole trip if there’s interest, what I wanted to write up even across this super-slow internet straw is that Ichiro’s here. Not Ichiro! himself, which would have been even better, but in the “records” section, there’s a free-standing display case with an almost life-sized photo of him on each side, commemorating his record-breaking season… and it’s coooooooool.
Like most of the Hall of Fame sections, there’s a seemingly random collection of Ichiro-related stuff there: shoes, a jersey, gloves, his bat, Sisler bats, his sunglasses, a really cool Japanese scorecard of the record game. It’s interesting to see that the Japanese game notation looks barely like American standard game notation. Ichiro’s sunglasses, on close inspection, are not as cool as when Ichiro’s wearing them, but they’re still really slick-looking glasses.
Or, in short: I went through the musuem pretty quickly, and there was stuff I liked, but what really made my day was being reminded of Ichiro’s triumph, and seeing the ticket stubs from the game I was lucky enough to see.
I’m a fan.
He’s on fire! Also, some standard-issue quotes from Hargrove for your amusement.
I know spring training stats are meaningless and all, but man, Ichiro! is cool.
So Ichiro’s hitting .579 with a .610 OBP, if Jim Street’s article is to believed. We then get this gem:
Asked if he’s ready for the regular season to start, Ichiro said, “I’m not sure yet.”
Ichiro cracks me up.
From the Japan Times, “Sasaki’s deal with BayStars is the richest ever in NPB” 650m 円, unless I miss my guess, is a shade over $6 million.
And check out this interview with Ichiro! That’s right, it’s an interview with Ichiro!
“It’s important to flex your body muscles, but more important to flex your brain muscles. Veterans have a tendency to be stubborn because they want to believe what they’ve been doing for years is right, but if you do that you can’t move on,” Ichiro said.
“Once you stop looking you stop discovering. I used to think there was nothing new for me to learn, but I didn’t stop searching. And look what happened,” he said.
Man, Ichiro! is cool. Thanks to several readers for the heads-up.
Is Hideki Matsui really so much more popular in Japan than Ichiro! that it’s “not even close”? I have trouble believing the Fox guys when they say that. I mean… not even close? Popularity-wise, I’d say that Carrot Top is nowhere nearly as popular as say, kittens. But any two baseball players? You’d have to go Bonds v. Cal Ripken Jr. to get in that territory.
Ichiro started playing ion 1993 for the Orix Blue Wave. Between 1994 and 2000, seven years, he hit .353/.421/.522. Since coming over to the Mariners, he’s hit .339/.384/.444.
Warning! Rough stats ahead!
Assuming that he managed the same overall playing time (longer seasons here but labor disputes), using his Safeco rates, that’s about 4000 PAs, and you’d add to his career totals about 1,300 hits, 250 walks, another 50 HR.
Ichiro! would today have over 2,200 hits, over 400 walks (420?), and 87 HR. He’d break into the all-time leaderboard after his 2005 season at about… #90, 2006, #60 or so (asssuming no labor war again), 2007, #40, 2008, he could be in the top 20 for major league hits of all time. His 350 SB would have him sneaking onto that all-time leaderboard this year.
That’s not perfect, but it’s a starting point to think about this. Ichiro! would have played 100 games in 1994, say 145 in 1995. If you figure him for an almost full-timer but also grant him games off he missed in Orix, I come out with another hundred, hundred-fifty hits.
I think even that understates the case. Speed, like defense, generally declines much earlier in a player’s career than hitting talent. Given Ichiro’s general hitting style, I think it’s likely that he may done even better here early in his career than this gives him credit. And he’d almost certainly have won a number of Gold Gloves if he’d played here from 1994-2000 as well.
My point, though, is this — unlike Japanese players who put up tremendous numbers only in Japanese baseball, Ichiro! may well end up with, strictly speaking, two halves of a resume. He’ll have been outstanding in the first half of his career in Japan, and in the second half of his career here. If he’d played here his whole career, he’d be a shoe-in to be voted into the Hall.
But as it is, his accomplishments here only serve as proof that he could have been a HoF-level player, had he started here… but his career achievements here won’t seem to justify enshrinement.
I’d vote for him, but I think everyone here knew I’d write that. The question is… when Ichiro! decides to retire, given five years to mull on the question, will the Hall of Fame votering have advanced enough that he’ll be given due consideration? Should the Hall of Fame recognize great ability, even if all that the ability achieved is not within our borders?
And if that’s the case, doesn’t that open the door for Oh?