"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Tag: ichiro

Forever Young

Ichiro esky cloese up

I’ve got a little piece on our old pal Ichiro in the new issue of Esquire.

The editor’s were cool enough to include me in their “Contributors” page. They asked if I wanted to be photographed or illustrated. Duh—illustrated. Okay, so the results are, well, interesting, but what the hell? You only live once!

Alex Belth illustration headshot

[Photo Credit: Hisashi Murayama]

It’s a Long Season


These two photographs by Kathy Willens from the AP have me excited for baseball. I found them over at It’s a Long Season one of my favorite spots. Check it out any ol’ time. You’re sure to find some goodness.


Garbo Speaks


Derek Jeter spoke to reporters today. The always excellent Chad Jennings has the skinny. 

And here’s some good stuff about Ichi. 

[Photo Credit: John Dunn]


Some players go on and on forever while others fall off the table without ceremony, thwap. Ichiro belongs in the first group though there were times last year when it looked like he was all but finished. And then he had a late surge and it reminded us of the great player he’s been.

The Yanks are bringing him back for two years and he could be more like the player in Seattle last season than the one he was in September and October for the Yanks. Still, I liked this from Marc Carig’s article in Newsday:

“I believe the Yankees organization appreciates that there is a difference between a 39-year-old who has played relying only on talent, and a 39-year-old who has prepared, practiced and thought thoroughly through many experiences for their craft,” Ichiro said. “I am very thankful, and I will do my best to deliver on their expectations.”

[Photo Credit: Charlie Riedel/AP]

Chin Chin

It’s almost official but looks like the Yanks will have their Ichi for Christmas.

[Photo Via: New York Times]

Waiting on a Friend

This report from Ken Rosenthal says that there is a good chance Ichiro will be back in the Bronx next year. I’d like to watch him play for the Yanks again. He may be old but he’s the King of Style.

Meanwhile, they are also waiting on that old goat Youk. Vat Gives, Youk? You’ve got $12 million on the table, Hoss. Nu?

Wait a Minim

According to George King, Russell Martin and Ichiro Suzuki are willing to wait on the Yankees. So? Bring ’em both back, just one of them? Which one of these?

And how would you feel if Nick Swisher signed with the Red Sox?

[Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images]

You Don’t Say?

Here’s a cute book of quotes from Ichiro–Baseball is Just Baseball: The Understated Ichiro. An ideal holiday stocking stuffer.

Handle with Care

Cool piece in the Times by Dave Waldstein on Ichiro:

During a game for the Orix Blue Wave in Japan in 1999, Ichiro Suzuki struck out and returned to the dugout unusually frustrated. In a fit of anger, he destroyed his black Mizuno bat. Embarrassed, Suzuki wrote a letter of apology to the craftsman who had made his bats by hand from Tamo wood, grown on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. Such was the respect that Suzuki felt for the process that created the bats, which he wielded with such skill.

Today, after a decade in the major leagues, Suzuki still displays that same reverence on a daily basis, caring for his bats like Stradivarius violins. While most players dump their bats in cylindrical canvas bags when they are not using them, Suzuki neatly stacks his best eight bats inside a shockproof, moisture-free black case that he keeps close by his locker at home and on the road.

“He dresses like a rock star and he carries his bats around in a case like a rock musician with a guitar,” Yankees pitcher Boone Logan said. “It fits his style perfectly.”

[Photo Credit: N.Y. Daily News]

Counter Pernt

Of course there’s another side to this and it is understandable that not everyone is pleased with Ichiro in pinstripes.

Check this out from Oyl in Tokyo.



Ichi Ichi Ya Ya Ya

Some players fill their uniforms better than others and few guys look as neat and purposeful as Ichiro has in his garb. He’s a superhero–though we’ll leave it to Jon and other experts to tell us which one–trim and sharp: a cool motherfucker. Kind of guy makes me want to pick up a pen and draw. Yet the first thing I noticed when I saw him wearing a Yankee costume last night was how much he’s aged. Lot of grays on the hair, the face with deep lines and I could imagine what he’d look as a old man.

He bowed to the crowd at Safeco field in his first at bat–the pitcher, Kevin Millwood, graciously stepped off the mound to allow for the moment–and then singled to center field. Stole second too.

He was stranded at third and that was the only time he’d reach base but still, the game was one to remember–seeing Ichiro play his first game for the Yankees against the Mariners in Seattle.

Mark Teixeira had three hits and Alex Rodriguez had a couple of extra base hits–double and a solo home run–but the star was  Hiroki Kuroda who allowed a run on three hits and a walk over seven innings of work (he struck out nine). Sure, the Mariners can’t score, but the Yanks needed a win. Robertson and Soriano pitched took care of the eighth and ninth as the Yanks won, 4-1.

Last night, we wondered here in the comments section which veteran pick-up Ichiro will most resemble: Lance Berkman, Pudge Rodriguez, Straw, Rock Raines, Chili Davis? Does he have anything left? Is he an upgrade over Dwayne Wise? As our pal Matt Blankmon noted, Ichiro is certainly good for TV. He may be well past his prime but we’ll be eager to watch him, especially in the field. Thoughts of him nodding–even bowing?–to the bleacher creatures fill my head. Then watching him gun down a runner trying to take an extra base.

Yeah, the optimist in me is looking forward to this, a proud old DC character plopped into a winning Marvel Universe.

[Photo Credit:  Lindsey Wasson/seattlepi.com; Elaine Thompson /AP]

Friday Night Fun

Yanks out in Seattle tonight to face Ichiro and the M’s.

Cliff has the preview; we stay up late and root:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo by Manny Pencils via Flip Flop Fly Ball]

One, Singular Sensation

Joe Pos on Ichiro!

Ichiro’s singles percentage is higher than Ozzie Smith’s. It’s higher than Jason Kendall’s (yes, it is). It’s higher than that of Luis Aparicio, Bert Campaneris, Bill Buckner and Kenny Lofton. It’s not the all-time mark — other very good hitters such as Richie Ashburn, Stuffy McInnis and Lloyd Waner have higher singles percentages. But in fact, those are probably the ONLY three good hitters who have higher singles percentages — maybe Maury Wills, depending on how good a hitter you think he was.

So, what’s wrong with a single? Nothing. But it ain’t a double. Ichiro’s .430 slugging percentage is certainly low for a .331 hitter, especially in today’s big-hitting era. Jef Cirillo slugged .430. Hal Morris slugged .433.

So, mainly what Ichiro gives you are lots of singles — line drives, hard grounders up the middle, bloops, bleeders through the infield, high-choppers. Are these aesthetically pleasing? Absolutely. Are these valuable? You bet. Are these more valuable than walks? Yes, of course, well, somewhat. But do a barrage of singles without many walks put Ichiro in the luxury line of hitters with Albert Pujols or Miguel Cabrera or Josh Hamilton or Robinson Cano or those sorts of guys?

I’d have to say no.

No Pain, No Gain

It started ugly but ended, if not pretty, than well enough for the Yanks today in the Bronx as they beat the Mariners, 9-5. Ichiro! led off the game with a home run against Javier Vazquez and then Russell Branyon became the first man to hit a home run into the right field upper deck at the new Yankee Stadium (Branyon is also the only player to hit the Mohegan Sun bar in center). The Yanks scored four in the bottom of the first (two-run single by Robinson Cano and a two-run dinger by Jorge Posada) but Vazquez gave it back and didn’t last long–three innings. This after not making it into the fifth in his previous two starts.

Right now, it’s CC Sabathia and pray for the Score Truck…

Jason Vargas, meanwhile, retired fifteen straight Yankees after the tough first inning. The score remained tied at four until the bottom of the sixth when Eduardo Nunez got his first big league hit–punching a high change-up, well out of the strike zone, through the hole in the right side of the infield for an RBI single. The ball came back to the infield and was passed over to the Yankee dugout. On its way, Nunez, briefly held it. He was standing on first, smiling. He kissed the ball, smiled some more and tossed the ball to Gene Monahan, the Yankee trainer, for safe keeping.

The Yanks added a couple of more runs, then another one in the ninth on their way to the win. Mariano Rivera, that bum, that zero, that dog, allowed a run in the ninth raising his season ERA to 1.18 (bum!). Otherwise, the Yankee bullpen was terrific, especially Chad Gaudin, who pitched three scoreless innings.

A nice win for the Yanks, though another rotten outing for Vazquez does nothing to help the digestion. On top of that, Alex Rodriguez is headed to the DL. “We’re going to play it safe,” Joe Girardi said after the game. “We don’t think he’s any worse than the time before.”

Right-handed pitcher Ivan Nova will take his place on the active roster. Nova will make his first major league start on Monday.

* * * *

Elsewhere, around the majors, Cliff Lee got beaten about the face and neck again today, this time by the Orioles (eight runs in 5.2 innings). The Red Sox and Jays play at 7, the Rays are in Oakland again later tonight.

[Picture by Bags]

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver