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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ichiro Ties The Babe

Sorry, not a sex-related blog, but a baseball one. I know, I know… I like both, but for those non-baseball fans out there, just close your eyes and think of all the dirty little things you can come with from the headline… who says this blog can't facilitate one-handed reading?

Okay, for the rest of, grab your bat and balls and get ready for news that Japanese MLB ballplayer Suzuki Ichiro (surname first) has tied the immortal Babe Ruth for most career hits at 2,873.

That total still only has Ichiro—it still pisses men off that everyone allows him to apply his FIRST name on the back of his jersey like he was Cher or Madonna or some other one-name pop diva, but whatever—tiptoed for 42nd overall for career base hits (a total that consists of singles, doubles, triples and home runs only).

Okay… if you glance at the photo above, you can see that Ichiro actually had his first name on his jersey even while back in Japan when he started with the Orix Blue Wave. How could he do that?

Still in Japan in 1997 (he came over to North America in 2001), he was considered a modern-day Japanese Babe Ruth, wining three batting titles (winning seven in total before going abroad) and lead his team to a number of Championships.

On the back of his jersey was the extremely common Japanese surname of Suzki (bell-tree) - it's like Smith or Jones or Lee… anyhow… his manager Ogi Akira (surname first) felt that Ichiro was unique… and should be treated and marketed differently from the rest of the ball players… and so… they put his first name on his jersey.

He was no longer just another Suzuki - he was Ichiro… he was an individual…

… if you know anything about Japan, this is way out in left field… it's not done… and while Ichiro was initially embarrassed by the attention it drew to him, he didn't let it disturb his on-field game.

Although Suzuki didn't come over to North America's MLB (Major League Baseball) until he was 27, and he wasn't the hitting machine in Japan early in his career (according to the two first year Japanese ball cards I have of Suzuki with the Blue Wave), he hit MLB baseball like it was a game HE invented. 

On May 18, 2015, Suzuki tiptoed Ruth in the 5th inning of a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks (he also had a hit in the 3rd inning)… on the second pitch of the at-bat, he hit an 89-mph fastball from Rubby De La Rosa and sent it into left field for a single.

Here's what Suzuki said to Steve Wilaj of MLB.com:
"Obviously, when you think of Babe Ruth, he's a home run hitter," he said. "I never seen him play, and don't know too much about him. For me, I'm just such a different type of player. I like to get hits and use my legs to get different types of hits and obviously he's hitting home runs.
"So you can't really compare. Obviously, we happen to be on the same number [of hits] right now, but it's tough to compare the two because we're such different types of players."

Ichiro is just three hits away from tying Mel Ott for 41st on the all-time list.

How the hell can you not know much about Babe Ruth? The guy was a dominant left-handed pitcher before becoming the de facto power hitter in the deadball era and modern era…

Granted Ruth didn't have to face any Black pitchers during his career and most pitchers did not throw in the mid-90s (with a few exceptions)… but it is safe to say that with so many teams nowadays, it is also possible that talent is watered down a bit.

But, in Ichiro's defense, Ruth didn't have to worry about relief pitching either… meaning in later innings Ichiro could be assured of having to face a pitcher who was fresh and capable of pounding the ball with high heat.

In Ruth's defense… he was able to handle pitchers who threw illegal spit balls and such.

Different eras - both fantastic talents. Ruth still gets the nod in my book for simply not looking like an athlete.

So… Ichiro has 2,873 hits… and 3,000 hits is considered a shoo-in for enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame (MLB)… but Ichiro did have 1,278 hips in the NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) league.

That's 4,151 professional baseball hits… all-time MLB hits leader is the black-listed Pete Rose with 4,256.

But I understand… The NPB does have shorter fences, so knocking a ball over or onto a back wall is more difficult in the MLB.

Because Pete Rose is accused of gambling while managing a team - saying he never bet against his team - I think his banishment from baseball should be overturned - partially… MLB should recognize his accomplishments as a player, and should be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as such, but should note that he was black listed for his gambling as a manager.

They should also stop the hate against Shoeless Joe Jackson.

Suzuki Ichiro - regardless if he plays another inning, should also be enshrined in the MLB baseball hall of fame. Anytime you can be mentioned in the same breath as George Herman Babe Ruth, you've earned it.

… provided it's not for most hot dogs consumed between innings…

Besides... we're talking about two parts of the world relating Ichiro to the Babe...

 Banzai!
Andrew Joseph

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