Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
Ichiro Suzuki, arguably Japan’s greatest baseball export to Major League Baseball in terms of achievements, is facing what may be the worst spring of his combined Japanese and Major League Baseball career, with his image as the most prolific hitter of this era and a team-oriented star facing beanballs from both sides of the Pacific.
After a woeful season in which his Seattle Mariners lost over 100 games while dumping a full plate of managers, executives and players, Ichiro – who had a sub-par but not mediocre year – has heard a chorus of off-season chirping that the eight-year veteran was selfish, statistics-obsessed and playing by a different set of rules than teammates.
When you make $17.1 million on a team predicted by some to at least win its division that instead finishes dead last, there may be some explaining to do. But Ichiro decided to postpone the rebuilding process, again playing with Japan in the upcoming World Baseball Classic and holding off on the Mariners spring training until completing the WBC run.
Robert Whiting, author of “The Meaning of Ichiro“, told me that the rightfielder is being held accountable unfairly for the failings of the $100 million team.