Wait . . . hold on . . . what the hell just happened? How on earth did Mr. Seattle say sayonara to the Mariners and arrive at the New York Yankees on Monday and play a game (and win) last night without anyone knowing? The Mariners must have been desperate for cash to let their star player Ichiro Suzuki be seduced by the big money of the Yanks. When I (Martin) was in Seattle recently, I went to Safeco stadium and popped in to the store. Everywhere I looked there was Suzuki swag and—at the risk of profiling all East Asians—everywhere I looked there were Japanese people buying it. I cannot imagine just how much revenue the Mariners will have given up from memorabilia in order to pressgang a whole new team and weigh anchor out of last place in the AL West.
That said, the Yanks too often seems to be the place where superannuated superstars like dying supernovas go to shed their final, fading energies, so the last laugh might be on Seattle. Suzuki is 38 and joins an aging, although still impressive line-up (Jeter is 38, A-Rod is 36, etc.), whose glory days may not be ahead of them. Of course, it’s possible that Suzuki—who’s never been in a World Series before—might suddenly gain a new lease on life now that he has the ring almost in his grasp. Big bucks and big-time ball can do that to a player. Just ask his 38-year-old countryman Hideki Matsui, who batted .615 in the Yanks World Series win of 2009.
Doesn’t sound like it was cash, since the Yankees only relieved the M’s of 2.5 million of his salary. Ichiro asked to be moved; at the press conference he said that he felt he was in the way of the Mariners’ younger talent and also that he hoped to have a chance to be in the play-offs again so it was a mutually beneficial move. I’m a huge fan of him as a player and of the Mariners as a team (though they make it hard sometimes!) and it’s pretty tough to see him in pinstripes. If I set aside that gut reaction, though, I can see how it makes sense for all involved. That said, I do think the Mariners probably could have gotten a little bit more for him than they did.