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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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July 29, 2008 4:27 PM

Ichiro watch is on

Posted by Geoff Baker

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So, we're about an hour away from game time and there's some genuine excitement in the air over Ichiro's next hit, No. 3000 of his professional career. A small group of fans here began chanting "One more hit! One more hit!'' as Ichiro came out for his pre-game stretching. There is a true sense that he has accomplished something, even though it will be controversial.

A spirited debate this morning on the comments thread, to be sure. Mike mentioned something not too long ago about what will happen if Ichiro reaches 3,000 hits in the majors, putting him past Pete Rose as the all-time hits leader. I was asked that very question in an interview by a Japanese media collegue just before coming up to read Mike's comment. It's a good question. My answer was that it would be controversial. Maybe not along the same lines as Hank Aaron passing Babe Ruth's all-time home runs record. That was a racially motivated controversy to be sure. And I'm positive there would be some backlash along those lines if anyone suggested -- as they no doubt would -- that Ichiro is the true all-time hits leader. But it would also be a genuine baseball debate, sort of like the one we had this morning.

Ricofoy made an excellent point about Tuffy Rhodes, who hit 415 home runs -- only 12 in the majors. Should he be in the 400-homer club? I mentioned this downstairs to some Japanese media colleagues and they burst out laughing. They agreed that it presented an interesting counterpoint. My argument would be that Ichiro was equally prolific in both leagues over a prolonged period, while Rhodes was not. But then again, if you're going to argue that all of Ichiro's hits count, then it shouldn't matter which league Rhodes hit his homers in, should it?

That's the kind of stuff that makes this game great. Just try to keep in mind, we are being watched around the world, especially now. There will be fans from all over the world tuning in to this blog tonight, particularly from Japan. Let's try to keep the racism to a minimum please. In fact, let's eliminate it. Most of the time, just ignoring some of the drivel that gets spewed on this site is enough. Most intelligent people will see a comment for what it is, shake their head and move on. But it puts me in a bind. If I address it, then I get accused of wasting energy pandering to idiots. If I ignore it, it makes it look like we accept those kinds of views on this site and get accused of supporting idiots. And we at the Times don't support them. More importantly, I don't. So, I'm addressing it. Either way, I have to waste energy on idiots.

So, try to remember. Those of you who post on here, you're blogosphere ambassadors of sorts to the world. This isn't some local baseball blog for the boys in Port Orchard (though they are certainly welcome here). We are read worldwide. We have a huge number of followers on a daily basis. I don't think most of you want people in other parts of the world to hate the U.S. Most of you are intelligent folks who mean no harm to anyone. Try to tone the racial and xenophobic comments down, please. Especially tonight.

By the way, here's a letter I received today from Thiago Oliveira, a daily reader of our blog who calls himself a "Mariners Fan from Brazil". Doesn't say how he got to support the M's, but he's a Brazillian born and raised. He lives in the city of Blumenau in the Santa Catarina province. He says he's "very angry" with the Mariners season, which I guess makes him like any other Seattle fan. I wasn't aware of baseball being an overly big sport in Brazil but he tells me there are lots of fans and people who play it there.

"Here in Brazil I watch the Baseball games at ESPN on Sunday,'' he writes. "In every transition (he means "broadcast" I think) the fans can write email, and there is a lot fans around the country.

"In my city I can't find anything from Seattle Mariners not a cap or a jersey.''

Hmm, we'll have to find him a jersey someplace. Down below is a picture of Thiago (far right back row) with "my friends from college. When we have a free time on Sunday. we watch a baseball game.''
Remember folks, the world is a big place. There's room in it for all of us fans of the game.

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