Ichiro Suzuki should be making us sad. He’s 42 years old, a wisp of the player he used to be, and currently in year two of the Joe Montana-in-Kansas City phase of his career. An old-ass former star playing out his final days for a no-account team like the Marlins, in a stadium as garish as it is consistently empty, is a sentimental sports fan’s worst nightmare. If there’s one thing Ichiro’s never been good at, though, it’s disappointing people:
Ichiro has had 60 at-bats this season, and is hitting .417/.478/.467. Most of that work has been done as a pinch hitter, but he’s been in the starting lineup for the last three games while Christian Yelich has been dealing with back spasms. Ichiro went 10-for-13 in those three games, and saw a total of 56 pitches. He swung and missed at exactly one of them.
You can see the four hits Ichiro collected in last night’s win over the Rays in the video above. If you haven’t thought about Ichiro in a while, I highly suggest you watch it. That third single, the one that just managed to float over the second baseman’s glove before falling in front of the charging right fielder, is as exhilarating as a hit that travels 150 feet can be. It’s the kind of hit that makes me believe that Ichiro, if he really wanted to, could drop a 90-mph fastball into a bucket in short right field.
Ichiro is now 40 hits away from reaching 3,000 for his major league career, and if there’s one thing I want out of this baseball season, it’s for him to reach that summit. He’s a surefire Hall-of-Famer even if he never gets to 3,000, but a player as incomparable as Ichiro deserves to have a big, golden number on his resume. He’d already be a god if his Japanese stats got the notice they deserve from American fans, but beginning an MLB career at age 27 and then finishing it with 3,000 hits is a good way to become a legend.