At Bats: 4
Hits, Game/Season: 1/106
Runs Batted In: 0
Left on Base: 2
Notes: Played right, batted eighth… Single, popout, groundout, lineout… 16th stolen base… Started in right and batted eighth in his Yankee debut… Caught the final out of the game to seal the Yankee victory.
It was serendipitous that Ichiro was traded to the very team the M’s are hosting for this current three-game series, giving his Seattle fans a chance to see him in perhaps his final few games at Safeco (albeit as a Yankee).
I first got word of the trade near Safeco Field, in the parking lot of Uwajimaya, and immediately knew I had to go to tonight’s game. As a show of Ichiro support, I wore my Yankees cap in public for the first time since I bought it in Texas in 2007 (it was a buy-two-get-one-free deal). I got all verklempt when he bowed to his cheering Seattle fans before his first Yankee at-bat (top), resulting in a single to right (below).
Though I’m saddened that my favorite-ever ballplayer has left my favorite-ever team, I feel a bit of relief, as this long-running “Ichiro Problem” for the Mariners has finally been resolved. Though it means the declining international superstar will not have spent his entire MLB career in Seattle (as I hoped), he will certainly enter the Hall of Fame as a Mariner. And while he’s now with the much-reviled Gotham nine, at least he’ll have a far better chance of winning a World Series ring before his exceptional career is over.
Uniform notes: Number 51 is now number 31, seeing as how 51 was Bernie Williams’s number with the Yankees. Though New York hasn’t retired the star’s number, they apparently aren’t willing to let Ichiro have it either… And while Ichiro has always had his first name on the back of his jersey, the Yankees don’t put player names on their jerseys at all. All of this will take some getting used to.
Anyway, quite an emotional day. Here’s video of his pre-game press conference, coverage by Tyler Kepner in the New York Times, Geoff Baker in the Seattle Times and Art Thiel, plus a whole heap of photos.
Next: Game 97 at Seattle, 7:10 Tuesday.
*This is a slight, Yankee-oriented reboot of this blog — it was New York’s 96th game of the season; ’twas Seattle’s 98th. I’ll still post game times in Seattle time, just ’cause I live here, though the home/away perspective will now be New York’s. Finally, despite the trade, this blog will continue at least as long as Ichiro stays in the game. I love Ichiro, no matter where he plays.