Monthly Archives: March 2011

Ichiro Art #1

“Dear Ichiro” by Kobe third-grader Ibuki Takada, found here.

Spring Training Recap

John Biever / SI

As much as I love baseball, spring training bores me. I couldn’t imagine flying to the Arizona desert for meaningless games between scrub-filled lineups wearing batting-practice jerseys; I’d rather spend my baseball dollar traveling to more interesting locales to watch regular-season games. Really, the only cool spring training thing I can think of is this. But, in the interest of all things Ichiro, here’s a review of his past six weeks in the Cactus League…

He reported to the Mariners’ spring training facility in Peoria on Friday February 18, and met with the press the following day. Then the day after that was photo day, which captured basic, all-purpose images like this…

Getty Images

Seemingly every spring, the press pokes fun at Ichiro’s bold off-field threads. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any such pictures this year, but here is an example from a previous season.

Yet another near-annual event is Ichiro’s appearance in those wacky Mariners promotional spots. Following such ads that ran in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2010, here’s a 2011 offering…

Not everything in Peoria was fun and games. Things took a serious turn on March 11, as the previous night Japan had been hit with that 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami. Arriving at the clubhouse that morning, Ichiro declined all interview requests, only to say he had been unable to contact his parents in Nagoya, as phone service was overloaded and the Internet was often down. However, he was able to reach wife Yumiko, who was in Tokyo at the time, and she was okay.

A week later, on Friday March 18, Ichiro still hadn’t commented on the disaster, though his management company BowPlanning announced his donation of 100 million yen to the Japanese Red Cross. Likewise, Ichiro has previously made several donations to areas in Japan struck by natural disasters. In February, he donated 10 million yen to the Miyazaki Prefecture, which was struck by repeated volcanic eruptions. In 2000, he sent 13 million yen worth of clothing to Aichi Prefecture, which was hit by violent downpours. And in 1995, he donated 10 million yen to Kobe, home of his then-team Orix BlueWave, following a disastrous earthquake there.

Back to baseball, Ichiro saw limited action in Cactus League contests, ending yesterday. He played in just 18 of the Mariners’ 29 games, in which the team went 16-13. Ichiro went 14-for-51 for a .275 average, with two doubles, nine runs, three runs batted in, and a couple stolen bases. Of course, none of this counts — it’s just a warmup for the regular season. Yawn.

As I said, spring training bores me. On the other hand, the Mariners’ opening day is tomorrow — I can hardly wait.

Welcome to Super Ichiro Crazy!

Hi! Everybody!

Welcome to my new blog, Super Ichiro Crazy!

I’m Steve Mandich. I was born in Seattle, I live in Seattle, and the Seattle Mariners are my all-time favorite baseball team. And, ever since his 2001 Major League debut with the Mariners, Ichiro Suzuki has been my all-time favorite baseball player.

The upcoming 2011 season marks the ten-year anniversary of Ichiro’s stunning 2001 rookie campaign. As the majors’ first Japanese position player, he instantly became an international superstar, getting the most votes for that summer’s All-Star Game (held, coincidentally, in Seattle). Far more importantly, while leading the M’s to an historic 116-win season, he received both the American League Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year Awards.

Unfortunately, the Mariners haven’t made the playoffs in the nine seasons since. They’ve gone through seven managers, finished last five times, and in two of the last three seasons, they’ve lost 101 games. Still, despite the Mariners’ mostly horrible decade, Ichiro has proven himself a model of outstanding consistency, breaking records with each passing campaign. In short, during his ten years in Seattle, Ichiro has remained the Mariners’ one exciting constant.

This blog will track Ichiro’s game-by-game progress throughout 2011, from Opening Day until the final out. I’ll particularly focus on his attempt to become the only player to accumulate 200 hits in 11 seasons, along with any other records he might chase. However, being a big pop-culture fan, I’ll also include plenty of fun sidebar stuff – memorabilia, music, art, trivia, gossip, etc. And some non-Ichiro baseball stuff will likely creep in as well. Finally, one other important aspect of the 2011 season: considering the M’s ongoing woes, combined with Ichiro’s contract expiring at the end of 2012, this could very well be his final full season as a Mariner.

In any case, if you can’t get enough Ichiro here, click the links in the column on the right — one of which leads to my own web site’s Super Ichiro Crazy page, after which this blog is named.

But hey, enough of my yakkin’. Let’s boogie!