First of all, let me start by saying that I’m Asian. Half-Japanese, in fact. And if there’s anything I know about Asians, it’s that we tend to be a little proud and a little selfish. I realize that this is what sensitive people call “stereotyping.” Frankly, I don’t care.
I, for one, fall under the umbrella of proud and selfish at times. I’m not going to lie to you. It is what it is. The guy driving 50 miles per hour in the fast lane on the highway? He falls under that category, too. And if you want yet another example of the proud and selfish Asian man, look no further than Ichiro Suzuki.
Ichiro is a bad teammate. There’s no getting around it. The man plays a team sport in selfish fashion. You can say what you want about his talent level, his ability, his meticulousness, his craft, but at the end of the day, he’s more concerned about Ichiro Suzuki than he is about the team he plays for.
I’ve played baseball my whole life. I’ve watched baseball my whole life. I enjoy baseball. Baseball makes me happy. Watching Ichiro play the game of baseball frustrates and upsets me. Both as a fan of the game, and as someone who shares an ethnic background with the Mariners’ right fielder.
One of the things that really bugs me about my people, those of Asian descent, is that they tend to love Ichiro because he’s a successful Japanese major leaguer. That’s great and all, but expand your horizons. Ichiro may be skilled, but he rarely gives the game his all. He lays up on fly balls, swings at pitches that he should be taking, bunts at the dumbest times, and generally focuses on what’s best for No. 51, rather than the twenty-four other individuals who he shares a clubhouse with.
On top of that, excuses are constantly made for Ichiro. He’s representing an entire country, they say. The M’s are already out of contention, they argue. Personal records mean something, too, they cry. But you know what? Excuses are bullshit.
If Ichiro was on my team, I’d kick him off. If you can’t rely on your teammates, who can you rely on? I certainly wouldn’t feel safe trusting Ichiro to have my back in a situation that called for it. That’s the unfortunate part about his selfishness. It exposes the weakness of his character. How can you trust somebody that so blatantly worries more about himself than about those around him? How can you put your faith in that person? Not just in baseball, but in any walk of life. That’s how Ichiro comes across to me, as a fan, and I’d wager that many of his teammates feel the same way, even if they’d never say it.
It’s not that I don’t like Ichiro. I don’t know him, so honestly, who am I to judge? All I can do is call it as I see it. And what I see now, and what I’ve seen over the years, is a person who would rather do right by his own self than by those he works with, those who call him a teammate. There is zero selflessness there.
Fact is, this wouldn’t be a problem if Ichiro was self-employed, if he played golf, tennis, or owned his own business. Who cares at that point, right? No one else is depending on him under that scenario. Ichiro could do as he pleases if his work didn’t demand any level of professional accountability.
But that’s not the line of work he’s chosen. And as a result, everyone pays for Ichiro’s narcissism.
The Mariners haven’t made the playoffs in a decade, not since Ichiro’s rookie year. While the man, himself, has piled up the individual accolades, the team has suffered in his midst. The organization has paid Ichiro millions of dollars to be a figurehead for a franchise immersed in suckitude. Congrats, Ich. You’re the best of the worst.
Additionally, while fans have been treated to eleven seasons of Ichiro bobbleheads, they haven’t yet been able to redeem a postseason ticket. How the f**k are we supposed to feel about that? Our mantles can’t hold all these figurines. Put an end to that garbage and give us some memories. No more of this material BS. We want to be able to tell our grandkids that we were there — WE WERE F**KING THERE — when the team won it all. Instead, all we’ll have to bequeath unto future generations are these piece of sh*t dolls with the big, springy noggins.
And then there’s the whole Ichiro conundrum, which to me isn’t a conundrum at all.
Ichiro, my man, my brother, my compadre, go home. Your heart isn’t in this game the way it needs to be. You’re too proud. You’re too selfish. You’re going 50 in the fast lane. Retire. Go back to Japan. Do right by your teammates for once. Let us move on without you. Let us evolve. Let us celebrate as a fan base. Let us pay witness to guys who get their jerseys dirty, who go balls to the wall on every play, who seemingly care more about the name on the front of the uniform than the one on the back.
Ichiro, it’s time. You need to leave.