Ichiro is now a New York Yankee and I couldn’t be happier. Not all of you though appear to be enthused that the face of the Mariners franchise for the past decade plus won’t be back next year. I’ve read your tweets and texts, taken your calls and struggled through your labored analogies on Facebook. I get it. You liked Ichiro!
You liked Ichiro’s Mariner career .322 batting average, 10 gold gloves and multiple All-Star game appearances. You liked his Rookie of the Year award and AL MVP trophy. You loved his record 262 hits in a season and his otherworldly .372 batting average in 2004. Clearly you love Ichiro’s numbers. I can’t blame you, but I can say now that he is a Bronx Bomber it’s time to look at the real Ichiro numbers to put the trade in perspective. (Disclamer: Any validity problems with the following numbers can be blamed on my public school education and absolute disdain for math).
1 – Number of playoff appearances for the Mariners during Ichiro’s tenure.
2 – The number of “mid-level” (that’s being kind) minor league prospects the Mariners got from the Yankees in the trade for Ichiro.
3 – The number of weeks ago Ichiro asked to be traded from Seattle.
4 – The number of years ago the Mariner brass should have pulled the trigger on trading Ichiro. Can you say “trade vale”?
5 – Number of winning seasons for the M’s with Ichiro.
6 – Number of last place finishes by the Mariners in the AL West with Ichiro.
7 – Number of combined MLB games played by D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar, the newest members of the Seattle Mariners…er…Tacoma Rainiers.
8 – Ichiro’s number in the batting order for the Yankees last night. The big Mariners debate of should he lead off, should he bat 3rd all seems pretty silly now.
10 – The grand total of playoff games Ichiro played in as a Mariner.
15.5 – Number of games the Mariners were out of 1st place in the AL West before last night’s trade went down.
16.5 – Number of games the Mariners were out of 1st place in the AL West a day after the trade.
31 – Ichiro’s new number with the Yankees, because another future Hall of Famer, Bernie Williams isn’t giving that number up, nor should he. Just ask Randy Johnson.
101 – The most losses suffered by the Mariners in a season during Ichiro’s time with the club…TWICE…in 2008 & 2010
261 – Ichiro’s batting average when he was traded to the Yankees. I paraphrase the Tom Cruise classic movie Risky Business, “You’ve done some very solid work here (this season)…but it isn’t quite lvy League, is it?”
266 – Number of games the 10-time Gold Glove winner played centerfield for the M’s. Best outfielder on the team, but just wasn’t interested in playing where he was needed most.
288 – Ichiro’s current on-base percentage. Gulp…
916 – Number of Mariner wins during Ichiro’s tenure in Seattle. HOORAY…
963 – Number of Mariner losses during Ichiro’s tenure in Seattle. Oh….
2-million – Number of dollars the Yankees will pay Ichiro to play for them the rest of the season.
5-million – Number of dollars the Mariners will pay Ichiro to play for the Yankees the rest of the season. Please take our star…we’ll pay you!
18 –million – Number of dollars the M’s could spend next season on players, now that they’re not paying Ichiro.
And the most important of the Ichiro numbers….
0 – The number of World Series rings the Mariners won with Ichiro.
That last one was unfair. It takes an entire team to win a World Series. It’s not his fault. The Mariners are ring-less despite unbelievable, Hall of Fame caliber individual numbers from Ichiro. Cooperstown loves numbers, especially individual numbers, but baseball is a team sport and for the bulk of Ichiro’s tenure in Seattle, the Mariners were a bad team. It’s way past time for a change. I hope Mariner fans want to celebrate winning games and championships instead of batting averages and hitting records.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all that Ichiro brought to the Mariners. He is a once in a lifetime talent. He’ll be a great representative for the M’s in the Hall of Fame one day and I will always hold his exploits with the bat and on the field in the highest regard. But I’m happy the Mariners are moving on from the Ichiro era. Both sides win with the trade. Ichiro will prosper with the Yankees as a role player instead of the reluctant star and leader he appeared to be in Seattle. I think we’d all be happy to see him join the long list of former Mariners who became World Series champs with the Bronx Bombers.
The M’s have an opportunity to continue with their never ending rebuilding project without the stifling constraints that Ichiro came with. The trade allows Seattle to go after some proper fit players from both a financial and positional view. It allows the fan base to avoid seeing the continued decline of one of its favorite players. Most importantly the deal refocuses the franchise narrative off of one individual player in the twilight of his career and back on the team and what should be their most important numbers: Wins & losses.