Friday, March 22, 2019

Farewell, Ichiro. And thanks

Ichiro Suuki bows at the end of his postgame press
conference at which he announced his retirement.
I was up and at-em early enough Thursday morning to watch Ichiro Suzuki's final professional at-bat and to watch his teammates greet him outside the dugout as he left the field. Some had tears. So did I.

These season-opening games in Japan, about a week before the rest of the major league schedule gets underway, always feel a little gimmicky to me. And Ichiro's very presence on the Seattle roster after a 2018 in which he barely played, had some of the same artifical flavor.

And still, I'm pleased it worked out that way. Pleased that this great player got to go out in his homeland, in the uniform of the American team for which he won an MVP and became a star on this side of the Pacific. Pleased that Japan got to see him one more time.

A younger Ichiro might have beaten out the soft grounder he hit in his final at-bat, but he's 45 now. He ceased being a full-time player some time ago -- his last season with 500 plate appearances was 2013 -- but he accepted a reserve role with grace and dignity. Indeed, he did pretty much everything with grace and dignity.

I will miss seeing him play. I am grateful to have seen him play.

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