A hero is coming home and it feels just right. No, this doesn't mean the Mariners will end the longest playoff drought of any team in any of the four major sports, but it does mean we can relish the glory days. The Mariners haven't made the playoffs since Ichiro's Rookie of the Year season in 2001 where the M's broke the regular season wins record.
Since then though, it's been nothing but mediocrity and one failed free agent after another to hide one of the worst farm systems and baseball. But you know what? I don't really care this time because my favorite player is back on my favorite team and the world is back on its axis.
I think I can speak for most Mariner's fans when I say that this sentimental move almost beats a winning move. Ichiro is the reason I'm a sports fan. Any major league player can hit a home run but how many can slap a ball just over the shortstop and in front of the left fielder, while already half way to first base?
How many can hit a ground ball to the second baseman and turn it into an infield hit more times than not? How many players can say they can hit home-runs whenever they want, but they think base hits at will are cooler? Some maybe. But how many can do it with Ichiro's charm and mystique? None. He's a once in a generation baseball player, from his skill set and determination to his personality. He conquered Seattle for 10 years and now the 44-year-old phenom is back where he's supposed to be.
Ichiro may not help the Mariner's win but he will offer satisfying closure to an unforgettable era in Mariner's history, the only era I know. Personally, I would not have been able to move on as a Mariner's fan if Ichiro did not retire in Seattle. I don't care if he hits .200 with zero home-runs, he has brought balance back to my favorite team, by infusing the old culture with the new. I don't expect Seattle to win any time soon, but if the essence of Ichiro can rub off on the team and leave some sort of lasting impact, that's all I can ask for.