Let’s say you’re building a baseball team from scratch. You can take any player in the game today, but you’re getting them as a rookie and you know what they’ll become, what position player do you go after first?
I asked this question of a friend of mine a few years back and his answer, without hesitation, was Albert Pujols. An understandable and very defensible choice to be sure, but we still managed to get in an argumuent about it.
How could I argue against Pujols? The answer is simple: I choose Ichiro.
I love the fact that despite having an incredibly awkward looking swing, he’s the best hitter in the game.
I love how fast he is.
I love how he’s running before he even finishes swinging.
I love his defence.
I love how rattled pitchers get when he’s standing on first.
I love that his awesome sense of humour can lead reporters to think he’s insane:
Before facing off against Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka in April, Ichiro said, “I hope he arouses the fire that’s dormant in the innermost recesses of my soul. I plan to face him with the zeal of a challenger.” Asked recently about a road trip to Cleveland, he admitted: “To tell the truth, I’m not excited to go to Cleveland, but we have to. If I ever saw myself saying I’m excited going to Cleveland, I’d punch myself in the face, because I’m lying.” And about Tiger Woods, he said, “Tiger is a great golfer, but … when you say athlete, I think of Carl Lewis. When you talk about [golfers or race-car drivers], I don’t want to see them run. It’s the same if you were to meet a beautiful girl and go bowling. If she’s an ugly bowler, you are going to be disappointed.” Is Ichiro going crazy?
I love the fact that Ichiro is so good at what he does that when he looks bad, like he did on the second pitch from Scott Downs last night, people assume he made himself look bad on purpose to make Downs throw the pitch again.
And yeah, that’s what’s inspired this post: Ichiro’s walk-off single last night against the Jays.
I know this is primarily a Jays blog and I should be foaming about Downs’ new-found suckness, but sometimes you’ve just got to tip your hat to the opposition and accept that you were beaten by the best. No, the Mariners are not the best, but Ichiro is.
Just take a look at the pitch he hit to win the game:
The jays are right when they say that Downs made a good pitch. He did. But Ichiro made an even better swing, so my hat’s off to you, Ichiro.
In my dreams, you wear a Jays uniform.