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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

suzuki0729 016.jpg

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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Posted by A-Lod

4:39 PM, Jul 29, 2008

Are we going to make some trades? What is the latest news?

Posted by KennewickMan

4:42 PM, Jul 29, 2008

Mark Teixeira to the ANGELS!

Posted by scottM

4:43 PM, Jul 29, 2008

from Drake. "really everything, included the glass ceiling he faced, should be taken into account. But that also includes looking at the CFL stats responsibly, right?"

Sure. However, Moon was inducted into the NFL HOF because of the merits of his NFL stats alone. I suspect that same will be true for Ichiro in MLB, too, when all is said and done. Actually, if (hypothetically) either player presented a borderline situation, both having spent much of their careers in leagues that are NOT comparable, then the argument is much stronger to include someone with Moon's circumstances rather than Ichiro's. Moon's situation is more analogous with Jackie Robinson's (although not nearly as groundbreaking). There was no formal barrier keeping Ichiro from coming to the US and playing here.

All said, 3,000 hits is an impressive accomplishment, one for which Ichiro should be justly proud.

Posted by Mike

4:46 PM, Jul 29, 2008

For what it is worth, even though I brought it up, I don't think Ichiro earns the hits crown even if he does combine to catch Rose. I also think it is unlikely he'd do it since it would take him averaging 200 hits a year for the next 6 years. Possible but not probable.

While I was looking up hit totals I did compare Ichiro's (much shorter obviuosly) MLB career to Rose.

BA -Ichiro .330 Rose .303
OBP-Ichiro .377 Rose .375
SLG- Ichiro .431 Rose .409
OPS- Ichiro .808 Rose .784

Admittedly different eras as hitting before 1969 was more difficult but also, I thought, interesting.

Posted by Ragarm

4:51 PM, Jul 29, 2008

Milestones in baseball are noteworthy and fun. Ichiro has done it on two continents, which makes it unique and sensational in itself. We Mariner's fans need to relish whatever good news there is this year and Ichiro's accomplishments are definitely good news. Let's celebrate.

And the trade deadline is the day after tomorrow and the FO is still sitting on its hands looking in the wrong direction. What a bunch of dorks. Why can other teams make great trades and build for their future when Seattle plans for sub .500 seasons instead.

Posted by BoneYard

5:02 PM, Jul 29, 2008

How many Hits did Roberto Clemente have in the Puerto Rican Professional Baseball? Do they count towards his total?

We make a pretty big deal in this town out of a guy who has never had even 70 RBI in a season. A guy who has 71 career Homeruns even though he "puts on a show in batting practice". A guy with a sub .380 lifetime OBP. A guy with the same OPS as Adam Jones at 32 times the cost.

Right now Ichiro is on pace for SIX big home runs and THIRTY-EIGHT RBI'S this year. Ichiro is a good singles hitter who has lost a step. We should trade him ASAP before the rest of the league realizes this.

Posted by Mr. X

5:08 PM, Jul 29, 2008

According to "The Baseball Cube", seasons in Japan are considered minor league seasons. Not much "wiggle room" there. The local media will make this into Cal Ripken's streak and McGwire/Sosa all rolled up into one though. Last night they were already talking about the "other players" in the 3000 hit club, as if ichiro would be an equal member. But they have to sell tickets and merchandise, I understand.

I'm a generous person though, so I'm willing to give ichiro some credit for his time in an inferior professional league. According to my calculations, I'm giving ichiro 2199 "professional" hits at this point, taking strength of competition into account. Take his hits in Japan, divide by 3, and add his real hits in the Major Leagues. Of course, that's just for PR purposes.

In reality, he'll have to average 200 hits for about the next 6 years to get the real 3000. That isn't going to happen, especially if he decides to go slumming, and end his career as a pitcher. Because anyone can do it.

Posted by drake

5:08 PM, Jul 29, 2008

That didn't take long... congratulations Ichiro!

Posted by Nat

5:31 PM, Jul 29, 2008

I agree with you, Geoff, when you say that most of us just shake our heads when we see what idiots who post here have to say. Having said that, after reading the comments (and done that) I too want to congratulate Ichiro on breaking the all time hits record!

Ichiro, you are the man!!!

Posted by Village Idiot

5:37 PM, Jul 29, 2008

Good point about Clemente BoneYard. I think that too much is made out of Ichiro and his hits. They have not contributed to this team winning. I would like to see Ichiro get 2,000 hits here and then go back to Japan and reach 2,000 there. I would be impressed with that. I love how everyone in Seattle labels anti-Ichiro sentiment as xenophobia and racism. Grow up kiddies, some people just don't like an overpaid singles hitter who doesn't offer much beyond that. Geoff I usually like your stuff but I have to argue that local fans should take totally precedence over any international audience. The Mariners need to be like the Cardinals, the Cards are a regional team that is cheered on by people all over the midwest. They tailor thier organization to the expectations of that large audience. If the Mariners tailored thier organization to the Pacific Northwest they would make more money than they do now. The people who actually live where the games are played should be the core audience. The M's would be a far more successful team both on and off the field if they actually cared about the local fans and not the international ones. Call me xenophobic or whatever you want but I've watched this team for the last 18 years and will tell you that this is an important time in M's history. Down one path is success and local representation down another is failure and eventual relocation. I suggest in the next 5 years that Mr. Y sells the M's to a local group. Then the M's do 3 things:

1. Trade Ichiro for the pieces we need.
2, Hire a GM who has balls, no more yes men and no more 2nd tier guys
3. Play regular season games in Anchorage, Boise, Spokane, Portland, and Vancover BC

If they do those three things they will vastly improve thier domestic fan base and take the first step toward winning.

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

7:19 PM, Jul 29, 2008

all the children of the world, come together and sing a beautiful song.

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