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s, Ichiro took hold of one of Ty Cobbs

  • When the Seattle Mariners Ted Heid originally scouted Ichiro Suzuki in Japan, he saw a great player, but not one he ever thought would one day reach 3,000 hits in the North American major leagues. Cheap Maple Leafs Jerseys China . No Japanese position player had ever played in Major League Baseball?at that time, and Ichiro wouldnt be able do so until 2001, when he was 27 years old. That meant to reach 3,000, he would have to average 200 hits for 15 seasons, when he would be in his 40s. That never even was fathomable to me, Heid recalls.Nor was it to his first manager here, Lou Piniella.To think in that first year that this young man would be playing at 42 and going for 3,000 hits, I didnt think it was possible then, Piniella says. Just 2,000 hits would have been an outstanding achievement.While Ichiro has had a great career here -- two batting titles, an MVP and a .314 career average -- as he aged and his numbers declined, many questioned whether he would be able to reach 3,000. Given his stats from last year -- career lows in hits (91) and batting average (.229) -- most estimates suggested that he might barely reach the mark near seasons end. Or that he would miss it and possibly not get another contract.Not that Robinson Cano doubted his former teammate.If you get to play with him and be around him, you know he will, said Cano, who played a season and a half with Ichiro. You would have to kick him out of baseball. Because he works out every day. Even when hes in the batting cage, he had his own weights he would lift before he hit. He was in shape. Thats the guy youre never going to see retire. He loves baseball so much. He said, Im going to play until Im 50 years old. If youre close to a milestone, why retire?Even if you reach a milestone, why retire if you are hitting as well as Ichiro is now? He reached the 3,000-hit mark months before he was expected to, and he is batting .317.I got to see him take batting practice recently and how he approached things and Im like, This guy has found the fountain of youth, Heid says. He reinvented himself. Just his control of the strike zone and pitches. Hes really locked in right now.Reaching 3,000 hits is an amazing accomplishment, especially when you dont get your first until age 27. But joining the prestigious 3,000 Hit Club is just one way in which Ichiro -- one of the best and most intriguing players in baseball history -- has made himself noteworthy. Here are 14 others -- which is probably 2,985 short of the Ichiro total.Treat your gear with respectIchiro is religious about his bats and gloves, caring for them meticulously. He stores his bats in a humidor, a case with chemical rods that keep his bats from gaining or losing moisture (he recently gave one to Marlins teammate Christian Yelich). He carries his bats to and from the dugout himself, not allowing the bat boys to touch them. Ichiro is so respectful of his equipment that once, after throwing his bat on the ground in frustration when he made an out in a game in Japan, he took the bat to his hotel room as a form of apology.He was so careful to place his bat at a certain spot on the dugout bench that the Mariners drilled a hole for it. He was very methodical that way, former teammate Dan Wilson said. Its probably one of those things that led him to be so consistent.Ichiro is just as particular with his gloves. Heid says during Ichiros first seasons with the Mariners, he was appalled by the way some teammates treated their equipment. During the 2009 World Baseball Classic, he openly criticized players who left their gloves unattended, tossed them on the bench or sat on them.His bats and gloves, Heid says, Are an extension of him. He treats his body as a temple. He treats his equipment the same -- as a temple.As Ichiro once told me: Equipment has heart, human heart, inside it.The batting stanceIchiro has one of the most distinctive at-bat preparations youll ever see. Its so amazing that Gar Ryness, aka the Batting Stance Guy, says he wouldnt be surprised to see him come up to bat with a Hugh Hefner smoking jacket, hit the ball and moonwalk to first base. He is so stylish in an enviable type of way.Before he goes to the plate, Ichiro will stretch in the on-deck circle, bending way down and shifting his body to the left and right. He will crouch with his rear end leaned back on his heels in a duck squat. When he gets to the plate, he will hold his bat up and outward toward the mound with his right hand. He will smell the batting glove on his left hand, then tug the shoulder of his jersey.There are other guys who have done the samurai pose, like Jim Thome, says Ryness. When Ichiro does it, he does it with so much more style. He would go slowly over the top. When he would tug his sleeve, he was doing everything short of motioning to the pitcher, OK, lets fight.Ryness isnt the only one who imitates Ichiro. There also is Fake Ichiro, who has imitated the hitters stance not only at games but also on a TV game show.I view Ichiro as a celebrity, Ryness says. Having been in Japan and seeing how they love him, Ichiro is like [David] Beckham.Inspiring a countryThe first Japanese player in the American major leagues was Masanori Murakami in 1964-65. There wasnt another until Hideo Nomo joined the Dodgers in 1995, followed by eight more pitchers in the ensuing five seasons. Ichiro, however, opened the way for position players -- Tsuyoshi Shinjo also started in the majors that season, but Ichiro debuted a day earlier and had a far more dramatic effect.For him to come over here and put up the numbers he did, it gave us position players in Japan hope that we could come over here and play over here, Mariners outfielder Nori Aoki says. Its still difficult now, but until then, Japanese position players didnt even think of coming here. We couldnt even imagine playing here.Since Ichiros debut, 13 Japanese position players have made the move.He reinforced the idea that Japanese baseball is very, very good baseball, Piniella says.The Ichiro LouvreIchiros father, Nobuyuki Suzuki, opened an Ichiro museum by the Nagoya airport, close to where he raised his son. The museum holds more than 2,000 items, many of them from Ichiros childhood. As the museum manager told me during a visit in 2002: When Ichiro was a child, his father told Ichiros mother, He is going to be a great athlete. We must keep everything. And they just kept everything.And they really did. Among the many items on display are Ichiros Little League uniforms, scorecards from his games, his model Star Wars TIE fighter, the certificate from his drivers training course, his high school ID card, his old bicycle, his school essays, his schoolboy satchel and his retainer from junior high. There is even an Ichiro mannequin seated at his old school desk, posed as if its working an abacus.BP masterWhile Ichiro is known as a singles hitter -- he has had roughly 700 infield singles in his career -- he has power, too. He has 113 career home runs here, including 15 in 2005, 37 leadoff home runs and two walk-off home runs, one of which was against Mariano Rivera.But it is during batting practice that his power is most on display. Ryness says he once saw Ichiro wink at somebody and then hit eight straight home runs. Winking or not, Ichiro will often blast balls into the stands. He recently sent several into the upper deck in Minnesota, which is not easy.Ive never seen anybody like that, not anybody in my life that can do that, how far he hits it, Cano says. I would love to see him in the Home Run Derby.A midsummer classicIchiro was an All-Star in each of his seven full seasons in Japan and in his first 10 seasons here. His best performance was in 2007 when he went 3-for-3 and hit the only inside-the-park home run in All-Star Game history and earned the MVP award.He also is known for his off-the-field All-Star performances -- he has fired up teammates with pregame speeches filled with foul language. But the most memorable might have been when he met President Obama at the 2009 All-Star Game. He bowed while shaking the presidents hand and got his autograph.My idea, when I saw him, was to say, Whats up? Ichiro said through his interpreter that day. But I got nervous. You know, he has that kind of aura about him. So I got nervous, and I didnt say that to him. I was a little disappointed about that.But I realized after seeing him today that presidents wear jeans, too. So my hope is that our skipper [Don Wakamatsu] was watching that and we can wear jeans on our flights.Speaking of which...Fashion statementsIchiro has always been known for his distinctive style of clothing. Bright striped shirts. Tight pants with cuffs high enough to show his bright bold socks. Very stylish shoes. He even wore a Bugs Bunny sweatshirt when meeting Ken Griffey Jr. for the first time in 1995. Another time, manager Mike Hargrove was so taken aback by his style of jeans that he had Ichiro bring them into his office.In 2009, Larry LaRue of the Tacoma News Tribune wrote about how Griffey would rate Ichiros clothes each game. Id wear that shirt, Junior told LaRue. The pants? No. That belt? No. Shoes? Yeah, I might wear those. But that man purse? No f---ing way. Youre 2-for-5 today.Cano categorizes Ichiros style as trendy European. You would see him wearing it, and then the next thing, everybody is wearing it. He used to have pants up at his ankles, and he would be the only one. And then later on, a year later, everyone has that. You see LeBron [James] with it.Downward-facing hitterAs careful as Ichiro is with his equipment, hes even more careful with his body. He stretches a good deal, and not just before at-bats. Before games, he massages the soles of his feet with a wooden stick.I was quite amazed by the things he did, the stretching especially, Piniella says. He took it to a totally different level. He was fanatical about it. Thats probably one of the big reasons hes playing here at age 42. That stretching has helped him immensely in staying healthy and playing this long.Area 51Ichiro came to the Mariners the season after they lost Alex Rodriguez to free agency, a year after they traded Griffey and 2? years after they traded Randy?Johnson. He immediately learned to sign his name in English script, wore his first name on the back of his jersey -- the only active player to do so -- and took the Big Units old number: 51. His right-field position soon became known as Area 51, but his reach extended far beyond that.Ichiro became the face of the franchise in a very, very short period of time, Piniella says. After his original signing, his replica jersey initially outsold every other jersey. Ichiro was so popular in Seattle that for years there was a concession stand that sold Ichirolls (spicy tuna sushi), but alas, that menu item was dropped after the Mariners traded him to New York in 2012. His bobbleheads were so coveted that giveaway night lines resembled those for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Fans sent the club multiple songs about him. The club even received a request from someone who wanted to market an I-Cheerio cereal.The real Ichiro was so popular that Fake Ichiro would wander around downtown Seattle, signing autographs and posing for photographs. He made a mistake one game when he reached over the low fence down the right field line and grabbed a ball -- that was still in play.High school hot tubIchiro and fellow Japanese superstar Hideki Matsui first met when their high schools played against each other in 1991. After games, teams would take communal baths, but seniors were supposed to go in first. Ichiro, who was a senior, saw that Matsui, a junior, was already in the water. This annoyed Ichiro so much that more than a decade later when they were both in the majors and appeared on a TV show together, Ichiro asked Matsui: Why did you get in the bath first?The armIchiro isnt just a hitter. He pitched in high school and maintained his arm speed and control when he moved to the outfield as a pro. He showed off that arm in his first weeks with the Mariners when he threw out Terrence Long at third base on a ball to right field.Ill never forget how when he threw that ball, it had no loop to it, Mariners broadcaster Rick Rizzs says. I described it as a laser beam throw right to third baseman David Bell. He threw a strike. David Bell never moved his glove to catch it and then put down to tag him. ... It was one of the greatest throws Ive seen in 42 years of broadcasting.Ichiro, who was sent to the mound to record the final out of the 1995 Japanese All-Star Game, wanted to pitch many times in the majors. He finally got the chance in the final game of last season when he allowed one run and two hits in one inning against the Phillies.A man of quotesIchiro can be difficult with reporters, declining interviews or telling them to come back in a week or two. When he does do interviews, hell sometimes speak with his back to reporters while an interpreter translates his responses. But Ichiro can be funny and interesting when he does speak. He can be so intriguing, in fact, that author David Shields collected many of his quotes in a book -- and that was more than a decade ago.Five of Ichiros funniest or most interesting quotes:I think one of the requirements for being a DH is weighing at least 200 pounds, so maybe if I was that heavy I would do it, [but] the day I weigh 200 pounds is the day Im inside a coffin.-- to me in 2009Chicks who dig home runs arent the ones who appeal to me. I think theres sexiness in infield hits because they require technique. Id rather impress the chicks with my technique than with my brute strength. Then, every now and then, just to show I can do that, too, I might flirt a little by hitting one out.-- to Brad Lefton in a 2009 New York Times storyTo tell the truth, Im not excited to go to Cleveland, but we have to. If I ever saw myself saying Im excited going to Cleveland, Id punch myself in the face, because Im lying.-- to Seattle Times columnist Larry Stone in 2007If there is a problem, we need to notice it, what creates the problem. The problem usually isnt just on the cover. You need to look much deeper. For example, if were talking about a tree, and the tree has a problem, you need to look at the root. But you cannot see the root. The mistake is to keep watering the fruit. Thats not going to solve anything. You need to find where the problem is first.-- to reporters at the 2006 All-Star GameAugust in Kansas City is hotter than two rats f---ing in a sock.-- telling Bob Costas what his favorite American expression was?A spring and fall classicIchiro has never played in the World Series, but he did help the Orix BlueWave to the Japanese title in 1996 against the Yomiuri Tokyo Giants. He also led Japan to the championship in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic. And who knows? With the way hes hitting, maybe he can get the Marlins to the World Series this October.Hall of FamerIchiro cherishes baseball history. He once went to George Sislers grave to lay flowers and pay his respects to the man whose single-season hit record he broke in 2004. And to apologize, Heid says. He felt horrible that he broke a great mans record.The first time Ichiro visited Kansas City, he couldnt wait to tour the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. He wanted to understand those guys and what they went through and everything they did, Heid says. And their love of baseball because they didnt play for the money.And when Ichiro was named the 2001 rookie of the year, he answered questions from reporters over the phone. When they asked whether he was back in Japan, Ichiro said no, he was in the United States. When they asked where in the United States, he simply said, In the United States.He was sitting in an office at the Hall of Fame, there on the first of six visits he has made to the Hall. Thats how much the Hall means to him.When he tours the Hall, he carefully views the artifacts. During one visit, wearing thin white gloves, Ichiro took hold of one of Ty Cobbs old bats, held the barrel end to his ear and thumped the bat with his finger so that he could hear how tight the grain was. Ichiro, Heid says, was stunned when the Hall asked for mementos of his first season.Five years after he retires, Ichiro will be back in Cooperstown, New York, but this time, he will take the stage to deliver his induction speech. And his plaque will be on a wall.?Flights from Japan are going to be very full. Cheap Maple Leafs Jerseys Authentic . - Derek Wolfe says hes finally healthy after suffering a seizure in November that doctors now believe was related to the spinal cord injury he suffered in the preseason. Cheap Toronto Maple Leafs Jerseys . Emery skated the length of the ice and fought an unwilling Holtby during the third period of the Flyers 7-0 loss Friday night in Philadelphia. He was given 29 penalty minutes, including a game misconduct. But Emery did not face even a disciplinary hearing with NHL senior vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan because rules 46. http://www.cheapmapleleafsjerseys.com/ .Y. -- Sabres forward Drew Stafford has witnessed plenty of turmoil during his eight seasons in Buffalo. Fernando Alonso thinks McLarens performance at Silverstone so far is proof of the steady progress being made by the team.Alonso continued McLarens recent good Saturday form by securing the teams fifth Q3 appearance in six attempts, qualifying tenth for tomorrows British Grand Prix. His impressive performance came after regularly being in the top ten in the weekends practice sessions.The Spaniard thinks McLaren has simply built on the strength of recent weekends.Asked if Silverstone represented a sudden turning point in McLarens season, Alonso said: I think its been positive and strong for us. Obviously its a circuit that is demanding on car efficiency, power, on everything. So far, we have been more or less consistent in the top 10 in all sessions, so thats positive news.Thats probably the trend that we have seen in the last two months that we keep improving race after race. Thats positive but I dont think thats a grand prix different point from now on. Its just continuing to be consistent.Honda has introduced a power upgrade for Silverstone and Alonso is confident of some good batttles on Sunday as the team continues to find performance from the car. Adidas Auston Matthews Jersey. .Asked if a strong race was in store, the Spaniard said: I think so. I think the situation on the grid order and the strategies will be a little bit of a mix tomorrow with the people starting in the top ten and the people not, so I think we can see some good battles tomorrow and hopefully we can be in the points with both cars at the end of the race and keep this positive trend.McLarens recent form has been overshadowed slightly by reliability issues, something Alonsos teammate Jenson Button has put down to the team pushing the limits of the car. Alonso hopes to bounce back from his recent frustrations with a top-ten finish.Obviously Ive missed being in the points in the last few races with some reliability issue. I didnt finish in Baku, I didnt finish in Austria, and in Canada we were P11 with not very competitive pace so hopefully tomorrow we can come back on that road. Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Jerseys AuthenticWholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys China NFL Cheap Jerseys ' ' '
      January 14, 2018 5:24 PM PST
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