The Cycle: Old Man Baseball and Heartbreak With Ichiro

Posted: July 24, 2012 in ALL II
Tags: , , , , ,

*Pardon typos but I felt the need to be authentic with my thoughts so you get them without edits.  I am also a die hard Mariners fan working with a Yankees fan and someone who likes the Cubs…when they are winning.  As usual four stories from the world of baseball…*

Single:  Baseball has no appetite for replay says 160 year old Commissioner

Top of the third in the nationally televised Boston Red Sox vs. Texas Rangers contest on ESPN.  Dustin Pedoria just hit a scorcher down the first base line with chalk flying up 15 feet in front of the bag but umpires, managers, and commentators questioning if the ball flew over the bag to be called fair (the umpire initially called it fair and the call stood).  Certainly instant replay could be used to solve this issue because the speed of the game can corrupt but slowing tings down generally improves accuracy.  We, as sports fans, prefer is things are right versus wrong.  The blatant suggestion is baseball should use some of this newfangled technology to improve the game.  Bud Selig, certified worst Commissioner in sports and certified old fart, disagrees.  While trumpeting baseball’s annual record attendance and willfully ignoring the disastrous ratings despite great play on the field (Chika), Selig proudly stated “the appetite for instant replay is very low.”  He babbled about the game being about pace – you know the slow variety which plagues baseball’s marquee matchup between the Red Sox and Yankees, the five hour ordeal – and after conducting an informal investigation (emails from fans, reading some papers, and talking to other old farts inside baseball) concluded that this instant replay nonsense was not a real issue.  Read the silliness for yourself but I don’t know how much more evidence do we need that 1) he is absolutely out of touch with reality and 2) he needs to retire.

Double: Murder’s Row and Ichiro

The New York Yankees, Major League Baseball’s best team aside from their trip to Oakland, addressed what many people thought was their fatal flaw in route to another AL East title and potential birth in the World Series.  With Brent Gardner’s season ending elbow injury, the Yankees platooned in outfield with Raul Ibanez, Clay Bellinger, and Curtis Granderson – not exactly the type of support you look for defensively and certainly inconsistent at the plate with the wing outfielders.  By signing the slumping and aging Japanese star the Yankees greatly improve their defense over Ibanez (evidence items 1, 2, and 3 provided by Grantland’s Jonah Keri), reestablish speed to balance out their lineup, and get a valuable baseball player who I suspect will perform better finally being on a team that has a chance to play for something meaningful after May 15th.  (More on that below)  Ultimately baseball writers attempted to nitpick the Yankees looking for flaws, namely their overreliance on the home run and questionable pitching.  Without delving too deeply into these concerns, this Yankees team is nearly flawless this year only to get better with the return to form of CC and Andy “backstabbing lawyers for fun” Pettitte.  Ichiro will certainly not be a star on the Bombers but he will have a meaningful and sustained positive impact on their way to a title, something I doubted last week looking at the outfield on display.  Acceptance is a tough thing but this Yankees team is poised to return to baseball’s summit.

Triple: Handling the loss of the Franchise…

Acceptance is particularly difficult given the details of a situation.  When your favorite player in your favorite sport who is also on your favorite team is traded to your least favorite team in all of sports, the natural reaction is going to be strong and more than likely negative.  I can guarantee that is going to be strong and negative.  I knew there would be a day when Ichiro was traded from the Mariners and I knew the team to acquire him would be the New York Yankees.  It is the way this thing works.  Your team has talent.  Your team is not good.  Your talent gets absorbed by the haves and you remain a have not.  I feared this day since 2003 but every year the Mariners organization kept the suitors at bay with Ichiro’s performance starting to wane towards the end of the decade.  Surely I could not imagine the Yankees would take him now so I let me guard down.  I started worrying about King Felix Hernandez, the talented righty out of Venezuela next on the eyes of GMs looking to solidify a playoff caliber pitching staff.  I let my guard down and was exposed for the big right hand to the jaw.  NO, that’s not right.  The trade practically came from thin air with the news leaving me crippled and angry.  If I was Oscar de la Hoya, the Editor-in-Chief and Yankee Nation was Bernard Hopkins flipping in the ring.  I learned about the news while sitting in an IMAX showing of The Dark Knight Rises and I did not return to the theater.  Shocked then angry.  The Franchise was gone.  The rich got richer.  My Mariners got two minor league pitchers in return.  Now the blood is boiling.

Then the wave of emails came in:

  • “Eeecheeerooooo! Linton! Don’t ignore me!! Jeter, icheerroooo. How does my ass taste? 2 former mvps on the same teeaaamm! Linton! How does it feeeeeeel?”
    • “take a chill pill. Ichiro is no longer a good player.”
    • “Eat a fat [one] cubs fan! is he an upgrade raul ibanez? Yes. That’s all. Shut it. He still gets on base and ya know what? He’s not gonna hit 3rd.EeeeeCheeeeRoooooo! Murderers row and eeeeccheeeeroooo! Linton! Contract the mariners! They suck! They’ve got nothing. Raul ibanez, 16th best player on the yanks! “
      • “His production this year has been just as bad as Ibanez. He’ll only have a negligible impact. So, once again, TAKE A CHILL PILL!”
      • “EEEEE CHEEEE ROOOOOOOOOOOOO bite it.”
      • “1 wants to know if you want to go to a Yankee game with us. Ichiro’s playing there, ya know.”
      • “In The Baseball World, Ichiro is now a member of the New York Yankees… Somewhere Allen Louis Linton II is pouting more than usual over his Mariners Terrible Season… GO SOX!”

I suppose you get the idea at this point but one comment really stuck out and it was made by fellow “blogger” Chika: “Why are you angry about this?! Ichiro is no longer a good player (it doesn’t hurt your team) and your favorite (?) baseball player is going to better situation. Feel happy for him and compliment the Mariners for helping him out.”

This comment may or may not have sent me into a two hour verbal tirade and absolutely unprofessional behavior that I am happy was not recorded or seen by anyone except the recipients of said behavior.  Realizing that people may not appreciate losing a Franchise player to another team and that people generally spend too much time commenting about baseball when they have no idea what they are talking about, I suppose it is my duty to explain why I am so upset and stunned.

First and foremost I am not mad at all at Ichiro and in fact am happy he gets a chance to be on a team that is built to win.  Jeff Passan’s foreshadowing piece on Ichiro’s future and relationship with Buck O’Neil covered the possibilities of the Mariners’ aging star with career lows coming up on a new contract.  It was the same situation the Yankees were with Jeter two years ago, career lows and all.  Selfishly I want my favorite player to stay with my team but I recognize that he does not owe the Mariners anything and at some point even the most loyal employees get a right to chase immortality in the form of a championship (re: Steve Nash).  Baseball’s Kevin Garnett went from the Franchise to the best possible chance, the most evil of all enemies.  Good for him.  He requested a trade and the Mariners obliged him by sending him to the largest market.  With this move he will make sacrifices (batting at the bottom, benched on days against power lefties, not wearing 51) but nothing like the years he put up in Seattle with nothing of substance to show for it – namely no real opportunity for ring sizing after his rookie season in 2001.  I fault Ichiro for nothing but that does not balance out the emotion of leaving my favorite team especially when he is traded to my least favorite.  While I am deep down inside happy to see him with a chance to win, the name on the front of the jersey is most important to me and the Franchise lost much of the little substance they had with one sudden move plus pinstripes.

Home Run: Why I was so insufferable over Ichiro…

Anytime a franchise player is moved, it matters.  It makes you assess what is going on with that player, the franchise, or the state of the game.  For me, this put into focus something I also knew for many years – the Mariners franchise is horrific and it pisses me off.  Ichiro’s outward excitement for leaving a team with “the fewest losses to a team with the most” says everything you need to know.  The Mariners absolutely wasted ten great years of baseball and did absolutely nothing to build a team in contention.  Which poor move would you like to address: Richie Sexson, Adrian Beltre, Kevin Millwood, Erik Bedard, the “pitching and defense” strategy leading to the single worst offensive season in Major League Baseball since the inception of the designated hitter, annual last place finishes in any offensive category of record, having an elite starting pitcher with the second highest paid pitcher being Brandon “I live to blow games” League, or the cherry on top: two minor league pitching prospects in return for the hits machine.  Simply put it is angering that Ichiro leaving for a team with some sense of baseball while I remain rooting for a team operating like the late 1800s.  To understand the anger I simply look at our roster with Justin Smoak (the savior) being sent down for batting .189; KEVIN MILLWOOD; Dustin Ackley (savior 2.0) toeing the line at .224.  Historically Ichiro’s departure shines the bright light on the leaders of the franchise who left fans with nothing, left Ichiro with nothing, and Seattle with nothing.  That’s why I am mad.  That coupled with the fear that King Felix – the last remaining gem – will soon be in the pinstripes.  Fate is inevitable.  Inescapable.  Whether you understand the value of Ichiro (who still has substantial value) or not, you can certainly understand realizing garbage when it is thrown in your face.  Seattle Mariners….just garbage but I won’t be leaving you.  And yet I hate you so much per usual.

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