NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Goodbye, Ichiro

This after­noon, the Seat­tle Mariners announced that the team’s best known play­er, known around these parts of the coun­try sim­ply as “Ichi­ro”, had been trad­ed to the New York Yan­kees for two minor league play­ers and cash con­sid­er­a­tions after more than a dozen sea­sons in the Emer­ald City.

The news took the Pacif­ic North­west and the coun­try by sur­prise, because although Ichi­ro’s future with the team has been a hot top­ic in the sports press, the news was not pre­ced­ed by much rumor or speculation.

The Mariners’ front office released the fol­low­ing state­ment by CEO Howard Lin­coln:

On behalf of our own­er­ship group and every­one in the Seat­tle Mariners orga­ni­za­tion, I thank Ichi­ro for the great career he’s had here in Seattle.

Sev­er­al weeks ago, Ichi­ro Suzu­ki, through his long­time agent, Tony Attana­sio, approached Chuck Arm­strong and me to ask that the Mariners con­sid­er trad­ing him. Ichi­ro knows that the club is build­ing for the future, and he felt that what was best for the team was to be trad­ed to anoth­er club and give our younger play­ers an oppor­tu­ni­ty to develop.

Ichi­ro will be missed. He owns a long list of Major League Base­ball and Mariners club records, has earned many pres­ti­gious awards, and in my opin­ion, he will some­day be a mem­ber of the Base­ball Hall of Fame.

I know that I speak for all of Ichiro’s fans, both here in the Pacif­ic North­west, around this coun­try and also through­out Japan, in wish­ing him and his wife Yumiko the very best as he con­tin­ues his base­ball career with the Yankees.

Ichi­ro report­ed­ly had a no-trade clause in his con­tract, so the deal with the Yan­kees was evi­dent­ly made with his bless­ing. He appeared at a news con­fer­ence this after­noon to say good­bye to the Pacif­ic North­west and Mariners fans. As it so hap­pens, the Mariners are play­ing the Yan­kees tonight at Safe­co Field, so Ichi­ro’s first appear­ance in a Yan­kees uni­form will iron­i­cal­ly be at the ball­park he has called home as a play­er for more than ten years.

To say that Ichi­ro has been a fix­ture of the Seat­tle Mariners since the turn of the cen­tu­ry would be an under­state­ment. He is — or was — the only play­er still on the Mariners’ ros­ter who was part of the mag­i­cal one hun­dred and six­teen win sea­son back in 2001. Every­one else had already moved on or retired from base­ball. Now Ichi­ro is gone as well, head­ed to a team that is like­ly to make the play­offs.… the Evil Empire. (Sor­ry, meant to say the New York Yankees).

A lit­tle bit ago, at Look­out Land­ing, Jeff Sul­li­van reflect­ed on how much has changed since the Mariners signed Ichi­ro:

The last time the Mariners played a game with­out Ichi­ro under con­tract was Octo­ber 17, 2000. John Hala­ma yield­ed to Brett Tomko, and Stan Javier bat­ted lead­off in front of Al Mar­tin. The Mariners lost to the Yankees.

Octo­ber 17th, 2000 was the day the Mariners were elim­i­nat­ed from the Amer­i­can League Cham­pi­onship Series. The team, at the time, was coached by Lou Piiniel­la, and Alex Rodriguez was per­haps the team’s best known play­er, exclud­ing des­ig­nat­ed hit­ter and fan favorite Edgar Mar­tinez. Rodriguez went to the Texas Rangers in the off­sea­son, and the Mariners brought aboard Ichi­ro, who has patrolled the out­field for the team in almost every game since. Until today.

We at NPI join oth­er Mariners fans in salut­ing Ichi­ro for his years of ser­vice to the Mariners. It’s unfor­tu­nate the team only made the post­sea­son in his first year as a Mariner. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, after Pat Gillick left, the Mariners’ own­ers hired a tru­ly incom­pe­tent gen­er­al man­ag­er (Bill Bavasi) who wrecked the team and squan­dered its poten­tial by mak­ing a series of awful trades and sign­ing the wrong free agents. The team is in bet­ter hands now, but it is most def­i­nite­ly still in the rebuild­ing phase, and is like­ly to be for anoth­er sea­son or two at least.

Even if Ichi­ro does­n’t retire as a Mariner, he’ll be remem­bered as a Mariner. Good luck, Ichi­ro, and thanks for all of the years of ded­i­ca­tion you gave to Seattle.

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