Ichiro Is The Hit King America Deserves

I should start out by acknowledging that this comes from a place of total and complete bias.  I’m a huge Ichiro fan; I bought in from Day 1.  I know, I’m from the Seattle area, and you’d think it could be taken for granted that I’d be a huge Ichiro fan, but as many of you well know, there are PLENTY of local haters in the area.  Mariners fans who don’t understand Ichiro, who like him well enough but like to mock him just as often, or who simply dislike Ichiro and everything he stands for.  You’ll find plenty of Mariners fans who think Ichiro is a me-first prima donna – and maybe he was!  I have no idea.  All I know is that Ichiro is the greatest right fielder the Mariners have ever had – which is saying something, considering I was also a pretty huge Buhner fan.  Ichiro was a 10-time All Star in his first 10 seasons in the Major Leagues, a 10-time Gold Glover in the same period, a 3-time Silver Slugger, and an American League MVP and Rookie of the Year in the SAME SEASON.  If you took just his 11.5 seasons with the Mariners, right there you’ve got a Hall of Famer, discounting all that came before and all that’s come since.  How you couldn’t at least appreciate him for what he was, I’ll never understand.

He wasn’t Griffey.  He wasn’t some middle-of-the-order power hitter.  And, as a leadoff man, he didn’t even walk all that much.  But, he was (and, apparently still IS) a hitting machine, a guy who could steal you an elite number of bases (anywhere from 26-56 in his first 12 seasons), a guy who played flawless outfield defense, and oh yeah, a guy who also had a rocket arm.  The sheer number of runs he saved this team, by either chasing down balls, throwing runners out, or more importantly, preventing runners from advancing an extra base, has to be staggering.

Ichiro was the whole package, minus the power.  And, in an era where MLB contracts just started to get into the ridiculously staggering levels they are today, Ichiro never really felt like a burden financially.  He had 4 years with the Mariners where he averaged $17-18 million per season.  Over his entire Mariners career, he averaged approximately $12 million per season, which feels about right.  Hell, for a Hall of Famer, it feels like a BARGAIN!

On the All Time Mariners list, here are some of his ranks:

  • WAR – 3rd, behind Griffey & Edgar
  • Batting Average – 1st, at .322
  • OBP – 9th, at .366
  • Games Played – 2nd, at 1,844 (behind Edgar)
  • Runs Scored – 2nd, at 1,176 (behind Edgar)
  • Hits – 1st, at 2,533
  • Doubles – 3rd, at 295 (behind Edgar & Griffey)
  • Triples – 1st, at 79 (next highest has 48)
  • Stolen Bases – 1st, with 438 (next highest has 290)

I don’t care what anyone says, Ichiro in his prime was undeniably great.  And, now he’s back in the news.

Yesterday, he passed Pete Rose for most hits as a professional, with 4,257 and counting.  Pete Rose, famously, was known as the Hit King, with his 4,256 hits in the MLB.  Of course, to get Ichiro to his number, you have to include the 1,278 hits he accumulated in the Japanese professional league, which many like to denigrate as inferior.  I dunno.  Do they get paid to play the game of baseball?  Is that what they do for a living?

If we’re going to reduce the impact of hits in the Japanese league – likening it to hitting in AAA – then do we get to do the same to the era in which Pete Rose played?  I mean, come on!  Are you trying to tell me the pitchers and level of athlete in the 60s, 70s, and 80s were just as good as they are in the new Willennium millennium?  I’m afraid not, mon frere!  If I had to find an apt comparison for those bygone athletes who chain-smoked, drank religiously, hardly ever worked out, and couldn’t tell you what a “carb” was if their lives depended on it, I MIGHT be so bold and so insensitive as to compare their level of talent and athleticism to those playing in the Japanese league when Ichiro was over there getting his 1,278 hits (but, to be honest, that would be unfair to our overseas friends).

Look, I know these are meaningless numbers.  All of them.  Who cares who has the most professional hits?  If you care, then you’re doing it wrong.  The whole numbers thing with baseball is so pointless, I don’t even know why anyone talks about it anymore.  Didn’t Sosa and McGwire, and then Bonds and A-Rod already make a mockery of the whole thing with their steroids-fuelled abominations?  If you care enough to continue calling Pete Rose the Hit King, then you’re admitting that you condone Barry Bonds as the Home Run King and all that his numbers stand for.

If you’re going to get your panties in a bunch, then I’m afraid we’re just going to have to stop comparing different eras of baseball, because it’s really too much.  If you got in a time machine, pulled Pete Rose out of the 1960s, and had him start his playing career in Japan in the early 1990s, then had him follow a similar career trajectory as Ichiro, would he have become the animal he was in the 70s and 80s?  Or, would this generation’s level of talent and athleticism have overwhelmed him to the point where we’d never know the name Pete Rose?

Sorry ol’ Petey Pants, but I’m not buying it, and I’m not buying you as the Hit King anymore.  Ichiro’s my man!  Ichiro, the erstwhile 27 year old MLB rookie, who later this year is going to get his 3,000th MLB hit (21 away, as of this post), is the single greatest hit machine the sport of baseball has ever seen.  Granted, they may mostly be singles, and he may have a ton of the infield variety padding those stats, but no one said Ichiro is the greatest hitter.  Just like no one said Pete Rose was the game’s best hitter.  If that’s who you’re looking for, then you should probably go grab Ted Williams.  But, the Hit King is a different beast.  And today, that beast goes by the name Ichiro.

Look, America is swell, and it has a lot going for it.  But, America doesn’t need to be the best at EVERYTHING.  We don’t need to make every facet of our lives about who has the biggest cock, okay?  On this one, Japan gets to hold the record.  It’ll be all right!  America will still be good at other things!  Like mass gun murders!  And electing worthless, pieces of shit to be our political leaders!  And obesity, probably!

America:  All These Things & More! (just not the Hit King).

Seattle Is Never Getting Another NBA Franchise

Prove me wrong, world.  Prove me wrong.

Douche

Anybody read this over the weekend?  Let me just point you to a couple of choice quotes from David Stern:

Right now what I’m working hard to do, in a perverse kind of a way, from Seattle’s perspective, is to sell New Orleans to stay in New Orleans, and get a building for Sacramento that will enable the Kings to stay in Sacramento.  I can’t say for sure [that a new arena in Seattle is] a pathway [to a replacement for the Sonics], but I will say that the only way to have a team these days is to have a world‑class building.

And here’s something else, also from Stern:

I just don’t see a North American addition,” he said. “We’re at 30, and we’ve got teams that we are working hard on to keep in their cities, to make strong through revenue sharing in our system, to grow their value, their fan base and the like.

What does that tell you?  I’ll tell you what it tells me!

First, that it’s going to be damn near impossible to move a franchise from another city into Seattle.  Why is that?  Because the NBA doesn’t want to be known as the kind of league that’s constantly moving teams around from one city to the next!  You can’t build a fanbase like that.  Not with that kind of flux.  The NBA wants to retain the THREAT of moving (proven with the situations in Seattle, Vancouver, Charlotte, etc.) to get what they want (taxpayer-funded Arenas to help build their North American empire), but they don’t want teams willy-nilly moving around from city to city like a bunch of fucking gypsies.

Plus, you know, it’s just HARD to move a team.  You’ve got to have a situation where everything totally breaks down and/or you need to have an ownership group idiotic enough to sell to out-of-state buyers with the sole purpose being to move that team to their home state.  Seattle suffered the perfect storm, that’s all.  That’s why our team was ripped from us in the snap of a finger, while a city like Sacramento gets all the chances in the world to figure out a deal.

And also, I don’t know if anyone hipped you to this or not, but Seattle SERIOUSLY disrespected his majesty David Stern.  They didn’t treat him like the North Koreans were forced to treat Kim Jong-Il and in turn, he had the city of Seattle executed.  Don’t ever forget THAT.  Our city and state governments may have let us down by not figuring out a way to finance a new arena that didn’t soak the taxpayer, and Howard Schultz might have been a super-collosal fucktard, but there’s a third element in play here.  An element that let those Oklahoma shitheads steal our team in seconds flat.  That element is a spurned David Stern who’s a fucking crybaby tyrant who will forever hold his grudge like the little, little man he is.

It’s simple, really.  WHY did Sacramento get a million chances to keep their team?  Because their mayor kissed Stern’s ass like the little brown-noser that he is.  Why does New Orleans get special treatment?  Because it would be a public relations DISASTER if Stern let a franchise leave New Orleans after all they’ve suffered and continue to suffer from the after-effects of Katrina.  I’m sure every other city whose arena is shoddy will learn from Seattle’s mistakes and kiss Stern’s ass just the same.

Which leads me to my next point:  why CAN’T Seattle get an expansion franchise?

I ask around and all I get are stock answers:  it’s not possible economically.

To which I counter:  what difference does it make?  If a city can prove that it can support an NBA franchise (which Seattle did for 40 years), then doesn’t that mean we’re pulling our weight?

But, then I read the second quote from above, you know, the one about revenue sharing.  It has NOTHING to do with diluting the talent pool – as others have expressed.  If the NBA could make money by throwing a bunch of cripples onto a basketball court, they’d surely do that and not think twice.  No, it’s not about anything altruistic, it’s about money.  Specifically, it’s about PRESERVING money.  There are 30 teams involved in this revenue-sharing venture the NBA is involved in.  Adding a 31st team simply means that’s 1/31 less money to be spread around to the NBA teams already in existence.  WE CAN’T HAVE THAT!!!

The only way you’re even THINKING about adding another team in expansion is whenever the NBA opts to re-negotiate their TV contract.  But, again, at that point what is their incentive to add another franchise?  Who wants to dilute their share of the pie to let Seattle have a brand new team?  No one.

No, you know what it’s going to take for Seattle to get another team?  The end of David Stern.  And I don’t just mean David Stern retiring; that could happen any time.  I mean, the next guy put in charge of the league CAN’T be a huge David Stern sympathizer.  Otherwise, you’ll run into what we have in baseball with Bud Selig (with regards to the Pete Rose situation).  As long as Selig is in charge, Pete Rose will never be in the Hall of Fame.  Why is that?  Because Selig has a big ol’ hard-on for Fay Vincent, who in turn had a big ol’ hard-on for HIS predecessor Angelo Giamatti.

In short, all of you optimists out there can keep holding your breath for a franchise to play professional basketball again.  As for me, I live in the real world, where it ain’t fucking happening.

Terrelle Pryor Is An Idiot

Plain and simple:  college athletes do not deserve to be paid.  Go read this article; it says pretty much all that needs to be said.

You know what fails to get mentioned in every college football or college basketball scandal?  Every single time you hear about some college athlete getting money on the side – from boosters, from agents, from merchandise buyers – the athlete is ALWAYS someone who would’ve made millions of dollars at the next level anyway.  ALWAYS.

Can’t you wait a year or two?  In basketball, you have to wait a year.  You can’t wait a year?  I guarantee you these kids – if they play for a power school – get free meals, free drinks, free whatever wherever they go.  Can’t that just be good enough?  You have to go out and sell your autograph like you’re a washed-up Pete Rose?

I don’t get it.  Yeah, it sucks to be a college student and be poor.  Guess what, 95% of college students ARE poor.  Maybe they have their ride paid for, but they themselves aren’t necessarily rolling in dough.  That’s all part of the college experience.

It’s ridiculous that the only people who complain about being exploited by the NCAA for all the billions it makes off of student athletes are those athletes who are destined to be making the most money when they turn Pro.  You are GOING to be a millionaire!  Just put in your time and don’t fuck it up for the fans!

Of course, they shouldn’t see it as “putting in time”, but they do.  College is just a means to an end.  The NFL and the NBA both have constraints where guys HAVE to be a specific number of years out of high school before they can enter a draft.  You’d think – especially if you’re a world-class athlete – that you’d want to make the best of a bad situation.

College is the last time you will ever have to be poor in your life.  I’m not saying that it’s the last time you WILL be poor – if you fuck up your finances, that’s your problem.  You should cherish that time.  Use that time as a learning opportunity.  Not just academically, but as a way to gain wisdom.

There’s nothing I hate more than a future-millionaire who breaks a bunch of rules and fucks it up for his school.  Not only did he get a free ride, not only was he a star on an elite college team, not only did he get drafted high in the Pros and make millions of dollars instantly, but then he gets to turn his back and blame the system.  While his school – who gave him all the exposure, gave him all the training to succeed at the next level – gets years of sanctions and gets their titles stripped.

Is it even possible to win a title anymore without cheating?  I’m beginning to have my doubts.

Terrelle Pryor is an idiot, but he’s just one in a long line of idiots.  Fucking it up for everyone else, then skating away free and easy while college athletics takes all the shit.

Maybe, instead of looking to pay these assholes at the college level, we should start looking again at these restrictions on how many years out of high school you have to be to enter the NFL or NBA.  It’s OBVIOUS these guys don’t want to be in college.  So, give them what they want and stop taking our schools hostage!

Roger Clemens Is A Big Fat Asshole

Allegedly.  I’m pretty sure I heard someone say that somewhere.  If pressed to come in and speak under oath, I could probably come up with one or two witnesses to back me up.

I don’t like Roger Clemens.  I think he’s kind of a dick and a dirty fucking cheater.  Not really something I have the time or capability to try and back up with fact-finding; that’s just my opinion.  Which is fine and obviously I’m entitled to it.  Roger Clemens doesn’t care if I think he’s a dick OR a dirty fucking cheater.

Of course, the problem lies in that a LOT of other people out there – fans of the game and whatnot – they ALSO think he’s a dirty fucking cheater (saying nothing of his possible dick-like qualities).  When it goes from one man’s cuckoo theory to widespread belief, then it hardly even matters if you did the things we think you did or not.  Get the government involved, and the justice system, and you’ve got the stink of Guilty all over you before anyone’s even given his opening statement.

As a Mariners fan, I think I’ve gotten past most of the aggravation of the Steroids Era.  I could sit here and say, “Well, if so-and-so had never taken steroids, then so-and-so probably wouldn’t have 1-hit us in the pivotal Game 4 of the 2000 ALCS, because he would’ve been such a broken-down shell of a human being that he would’ve been forced into retirement years before,” I COULD sit here and say that, but where would it get me?  Let’s face it, at this point I’m ready to believe every baseball player known to man was taking SOMETHING to enhance his performance.  Levelling the playing field in that regard, it’s still going to come down to the actual performance on the field, we still got beat, and that’s the end of it.

Regardless, I still hope Clemens goes to jail.  If for nothing else than his last couple of years where he’d waltz into the clubhouse in mid-May and command some rediculous amount of money to play for just a couple of months.  Like I said, I think he’s a dick!  Yes they deserve to die and I hope they burn in hell!

You brought this all on yourself Clemens.  In some bizarre quest to “Clear Your Name”.  I mean, you’ve got to be kidding me!  Just go away quietly, stay away from the press, and in a few years we’ll let you be a coach or something like Mark McGwire is in St. Louis.  Does taking steroids shrink your brain like it does your testes?  It’s not that complicated:  you’ve been implicated in one of the biggest disgraces in sports history … that’s not just going to go away because you’ve imagined some rationalization about ears growing out of your forehead!  You’re going to need evidence that you’ve NEVER taken them. 

Oh sure, legally speaking the onus might be on the government to have to prove without a shadow of a doubt that you DID take steroids or HGH or whatever, but winning that case just keeps you from prison.  It won’t prove – in that almighty Court Of Public Opinion – that you’re totally and 100% innocent.  The people will still believe you did it.  We know it was you, Fredo.  And we’re never going to let you forget we know.

Now go.  Go rot in Baseball Purgatory with Pete Rose and Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro.