Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ichiro the Artist Collects 4,000th Career Hit

Earlier Wednesday afternoon Michael Kay wondered aloud on his radio show if anyone cared about Ichiro Suzuki reaching 4,000 career hits. How could we not? It doesn't matter that it occurred in two different countries. It's an incredible achievement.

The achievement occurred earlier this evening at Yankee Stadium in Ichiro's first at-bat of the night. Facing Toronto Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, Ichiro waved his magic wand and slapped a single past third baseman Brett Lawrie into left field.

As the fans gave him a standing ovation and a plethora of photographers clicked away, Ichiro's teammates came out to congratulate him.No player may have been more excited than Toronto infielder, fellow countryman and Ichiro's teammate in Seattle last year, Munenori Kawasaki. In reaching the milestone, Ichiro joined Pete Rose and Ty Cobb as the only players to eclipse 4,000 hits.

Ichiro started his professional career with the Orix Blue Wave in 1992 and remained there until he joined the Seattle Mariners prior to the 2001 season. The Mariners dealt the pending free agent to the Yankees at the 2012 deadline and then he re-upped with NY in the off-season.

No matter where Ichiro has played, his game is one of artistry. He runs with the grace of a young Baryshnikov while wielding a bat like a master swordsman. He doesn't get as many hits as he did when he was younger; when he seemingly got hits at will.  How could anyone hit when they moved both feet like Astaire while swinging the bat? No one else has been able to do it.

He has lost a step, but can still out run players nearly half his age. The rifle for an arm isn't quite what it used to be, but he can still run down any ball and make it look easy. (He made a sliding catch in tonight's game.) Instead of stealing bases at will, he picks his spots and is still successful. (He entered Wednesday's game with 18 steals in 21 attempts.)

In a word, Ichiro's career is legendary.

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