I know I’m not the only one who was eagerly anticipating what Ichiro Suzuki was going to do this season.
Was he going to sign with the Mariners and return home? Would some other team snatch him up first? I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but I know what I wanted to happen.
So imagine my surprise and excitement when I learned that Ichiro would be coming back to Seattle for the next year. I admittedly wanted to jump up and down, scream, and do a few air punches in celebration.
Those who know me know I’m not the biggest sports fan, but when it comes to baseball, I make a hard exception. I’ve enjoyed the game for many years, though not always enough to consider myself the biggest fan.
As a Washington native, my obvious team of choice has always been the Mariners. I remember watching their last playoffs stint and being angry when they ultimately lost to the New York Yankees (I hate the Yankees to this day).
I also vaguely remember attending a game at the King Dome, though I don’t remember what the outcome of that game was. I’ve even attended a few games at Safeco Field over the years, cheering on Ichiro while he was a part of the team. My point is, I like baseball, and have liked it in some capacity for as long as I can remember.
So what does Ichiro’s return to Seattle mean, besides a whole year of me being ecstatic over his return?
Well, for a team like Seattle that has playoff potential but has missed its opportunity to get there multiple times, it means that potential may increase. Ichiro was a rookie when Seattle made the playoffs in 2001, but since then has made huge strides to be the well-known player that he is. Last year, while playing for the Miami Marlins, he scored his 1400th run and set major league records for pinch hits in a season. He also became the sixth player of all time to hit 2,500 singles during his career. Despite his age, I anticipate that Ichiro will be able to keep this momentum going for the next year.
Aside from hitting, Ichiro is also proven to be very reliable in the outfield. This is crucial for a team like Seattle, who has very young outfield players. Even though those players are good at what they do, Ichiro could use his experience to help strengthen the outfield even more.
I also anticipate that he will get a lot of playing time for at least the first few games with Ben Gamel on the mend. But even if he gets a lot of playing time or not (so far they’re talking of putting him in at least four games per week), Ichiro will be able to help the outfield out immensely which will, in turn, make the Mariners even stronger this year.
Ichiro’s return to Seattle is both exciting to the fans and to the team itself. He’s both well-loved by many and a huge star who has only continued to prove himself over the years. I know I’m not alone in saying that I can’t wait to see what he does this season!