Friday, July 27, 2012

Ichiro and me


By CHRIS MILLSPAUGH

Ichiro Suzuki, Major League all-star right fielder for the Seattle Mariners and holder of the record for the most hits in a season, was traded this week to the New York Yankees for two mediocre right-handed minor league pitchers. In his 11 and a half seasons with the Mariners, Ichiro set almost every club record in offense and defense statistics, making him one of the greatest ballplayers who have ever played in the Northwest.

For the past few years, the Mariners have been the worst team in baseball, and the only reason to follow them was Ichiro. The "Ichi-Meter," a man-made sign in centerfield, kept track of his hits game by game. He was the soul of the Mariners, and now he is gone, traded to the hated Yankees whom the Mariners have been supplying with their stars for years. They might as well have been the Yankees' top farm system in the last decade.

But, says the management, "We're in a rebuilding season." They've been in a rebuilding season now for the last 10 years, since 2002, which was the last time they made the playoffs. Am I, a loyal Mariners fan since 1979, discouraged about this last turn of events? Well, yes and no, I will say. Ichiro will go from the worst team in baseball to the best, can finish out his career with a winner and blossom again in the Big Apple. On the other hand, we got two unknown pitchers in return, never mind that what we needed were power hitters.

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What does this have to do with me other than I'm a life-long fan? Well, I'm in a rebuilding year as well. After retiring from the library and the U.S. Forest Service (OK, I resigned), I find myself open to the prospects of a new career other than writing. Why, you ask? Oh, something about, how do they put it, sufficient funds to exist in the Valley of the Wood? I'm sure many of you have faced this plateau in your life or are facing it now, as well as Ichiro and I are. Although I have never obtained the millions he has over his career, I have had a better year. I finished a book in the beautiful, sunny Wood River Valley and he hit .260 in rain-soaked Seattle. I speak and write English a little better than Ichiro and I bet that I'm a helluva lot funnier.

So, if you have positions open for a seasoned lounge act who can "take two and hit to right," give me a call, and as always,

Nice talking to you.




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