October 24, 2012. Mark it on your calendars as the day the hopes and dreams of all fun-loving Seattle Mariners fans were destroyed. On this date in history, Munenori Kawasaki — he of the crowd-waving, dugout-dancing, fake-base-stealing whimsy — was released by the only Major League Baseball team to have ever employed him. Let’s all now share a moment of silence in honor of Mune.
From a business perspective, it makes sense. There are any number of utility middle infielders around the game of baseball who can bat .192, drive in seven runs, and get caught stealing in fifty-percent of their four attempts. But for Christ’s sake, how many of those utility middle infielders will willingly break out spontaneous dance moves in the dugout, flop their wrists in between pitches at the plate (for dramatic effect, we can assume), leap across the infield lawn when a game has just been won, or smile every single day, for no reason at all? None, I imagine. None of those other guys will do it. Except Kawasaki.