Long before my trip home, I bought 4 tickets online to the Mariners vs. the Yankees for July 24th.. never would I have imagined, the day before this game Ichiro Suzuki would be traded to the New York Yankees! It’s one thing to trade the face of your team for nearly a decade, but it’s another to do it while the team you are trading him to is the visiting team for 3-days in town. Unlike anything I have seen in sports, Ichiro was in the Yankee lineup vs. the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on the same day the trade was announced! Talk about not wasting any time! Lucky for me and my friends, our tickets had a lot more extra significance as we saw Ichiro as a Yankee, the day after he was traded.. I have to assume the timing of this trade was orchestrated by the Mariners to give Ichiro a hometown send off, but it all seemed odd to me… As for Ichiro’s future, let me venture to guess… Ichiro at the point of this trade is 38 years old needing slightly over 400 more hits to reach 3000 for his Major League career. As for Ichiro’s career hits, including those he earned in Japan, he is far beyond 3000 hits already. But unfortunately his professional hits from Japan have little significance for sports writers in the United States that vote in players into the Baseball Hall of Fame. If they did, Ichiro would be chasing Pete Rose for the most career hits of all time, and not just 3000 hits to put it in perspective. If Ichiro reaches 3000 hits for his career, he will have also surpassed Pete Rose (4256 career hits) by 22 hits, giving him the unofficial title as Hits King.. which by all accounts is still amazing! For those of you unaware, 3000 hits is a major milestone in Major League Baseball, with only 28 players in the history of the sport having reached this standard of batting excellence. Of these 28 players, only 3 have not made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame (R. Palmeiro, P. Rose, and C. Biggio ~ D. Jeter – active). I’m assuming Ichiro is well aware of this, and will stretch his career in order to achieve his 3000th hit. I think Ichiro will need to have 2 more great seasons to reach 3000 hits, but most likely it will take him 3 more seasons to achieve the milestone. Moreover, I doubt the Yankees will re-sign Ichiro after his contract expires after this season, therefore he will be a free agent looking for a 2-year deal, at which point I hope the Mariners will pick him up at the age of 41 for his 3rd and final year in Major League Baseball for this incredible milestone! Wishful thinking, but the most fitting ending for someone who in all likelihood will be enshrined in Cooperstown as a Seattle Mariner, with or without achieving this final career milestone!
Note: A link to all my pictures at the game Ichiro Traded 2012 Album