When I heard that the New York Yankees had re-signed Ichiro Suzuki, I was ecstatic. Ever since I started to follow the great sport of baseball back in 2005, Ichiro has been one of my favorite players. I can recall many times where I would walk around my house shouting the name “Ichiro” as if I were a PA announcer. Even as a ten year old who was blinded by the mystique of the homerun, Ichiro stood out to me as a great player. When Ichiro was traded to the Yankees in July of the 2012 season, I wasn’t just happy – I was overjoyed.
A fantasy of mine had become a reality.
However I was ultimately torn down by the fact that Ichiro’s contract was set to expire at the end of the season. Surely with the way he had played in his short time with the Yankees, some team was bound to offer him more money than the Yankees would.
Two teams did.
Both the Philadelphia Phillies and San Fransisco Giants made pushes to sign the now 39 year old outfielder. They offered him two year contracts which were worth more money than the Yankees were offering. In today’s game of baseball, where money rules all, I thought that Ichiro was bound to leave the Bronx and take his talents elsewhere.
Yet he signed with the Yankees.
A player signing for less money in today’s game is practically unheard of – yet Ichiro resigned with the Yankees because he loved putting on the pinstripes and playing in the baseball mecca that is Yankee Stadium.
He is one of baseball’s good guys.
The Yankees must realize just how lucky they are to have Ichiro locked up for two years now. This allows outfield prospects such as Slade Heathcott, and Mason Williams some more time to mature while in the minor leagues. They will not have to be rushed now. Not only does it allow for the maturing of young players, it gives the Yankees a solid outfielder who can change the way that the team plays baseball. Too many times last year did the Yankees rely on hitting homeruns to win ballgames. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it did not. Having Ichiro allows the Yankees to play more small-ball, which we saw them do effectively during the month of September.
Ichiro could have very easily signed with another team for more money – but he didn’t. I certainly respect him even more now than I did before. Ichiro plays for the love of the game, and the desire for a championship.