Time to trade Ichiro?

Guy walks into the press box saying, "trade Ich for pitching." No way.
Guy walks into the press box saying, "trade Ich for pitching." No way.

An acquaintance I call The But Guy has been trying for five-plus years to convince anybody who will listen that the Seattle Mariners ought to trade Ichiro Suzuki. The first time I heard it was at the end of the 2004 season. All Ich had done was hit .372 and set a major-league record for hits in a season, with 262. 'ꀜBut the M'ꀙs were 63-99,'ꀝ noted The But Guy. 'ꀜThey oughta trade Ich for pitching.'ꀝ

So I know what to expect when I pass T.B.G. in the Safeco press box during the M'ꀙs six-game home stand the first week of June. 'ꀜHey,'ꀝ I'ꀙll say, 'ꀜIch had four hits to extend his 24-game hitting streak Sunday and raise his average to .354: third best in the league.'ꀝ

'ꀜYeah, but the M'ꀙs blew a seven-run lead and lost to the Angels in the ninth,'ꀝ But Guy will note. 'ꀜThey'ꀙre 24 and 27, in third place, six-and-a-half games back. They should swap him.'ꀝ

I may at this point ask But Guy to concede that an injured Ichiro spotted the rest of the league 11 games before joining the 'ꀙ09 campaign. Even giving the head start he'ꀙs third in the league in hits, just 11 behind the leader. 'ꀜBut his hits don'ꀙt translate to wins,'ꀝ But Guy will argue. 'ꀜDuring his 24-game streak the team was 9 and 15. Besides, he'ꀙs the greatest month-of-May hitter in 50-some years. Naturally his average would be way up there right now. Dump him while you can.'ꀝ

'ꀜHe even had another dinger Sunday, his fifth already,'ꀝ I'ꀙll counter. 'ꀜHe'ꀙs on pace for 18 this season, all this from a guy standing five-nine and weighing 160.'ꀝ 'ꀜBut that just makes him better trade bait,'ꀝ T.B.G. will banter. 'ꀜUnload him.'ꀝ

Obviously I can'ꀙt win with a pro-Ichiro approach. A month from now nothing will have changed, to wit: 'ꀜHey, Ich just hit in his 57th-consecutive game,'ꀝ I'ꀙll exclaim, 'ꀜbreaking the most honored record in sports history, set in 1941 by Joe Dimaggio.'ꀝ 'ꀜYeah, but Ich was never married to Marilyn Monroe,'ꀝ But Guy will recall for me. 'ꀜMove him.'ꀝ

A month later I'ꀙll marvel that the right-fielder 'ꀜnow leads in hitting, home runs, and runs batted in. He might win the Triple Crown, the first time it'ꀙs been done since Carl Yastrzemski in 'ꀘ67.'ꀝ 'ꀜYeah, but Yaz and the Red Sox lost the World Series that year,'ꀝ T.B.G. will point out. 'ꀜGet value for Ich now.'ꀝ

The end of the season will approach and the Mariner brain trust will have seen the wisdom of hanging onto Suzuki. By then President Obama will have dispatched Ich to Pyongyang to diffuse the North Korea nuclear crisis. Ich will have gotten Kim Jong iL to take an autographed bat and a batch of wife Yumiko Suzuki'ꀙs gourmet rice balls in trade for disarming.

'ꀜThis guy'ꀙs literally all-world now,'ꀝ I'ꀙll rave. 'ꀜClearly you'ꀙd want the M'ꀙs to keep him.'ꀝ

'ꀜActually,'ꀝ But Guy will say, 'ꀜit opens a whole new way of looking at a trade. But instead of sending him to the Yankees or Dodgers or Red Sox, palm him off for prospects to the Washington Nationals. After all, Ich has always been comfortable playing for perennial losers, and this way his new best buddy Obama could see him play all the time.'ꀝ


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