Regardless of how they feel about the guy, baseball fans 'round here tend to get excited about the prospect of Ichiro reaching 3,000 hits in the majors. 'Cause, yeah, milestones.
Meh. 3,000 doesn't turn me on like 4,257 does.
Let's just say, for fun, that Ichiro enjoys another Ichiresque season and finishes 2011 with 2,460 MLB hits. (He owns 2,283 as of May 2.) Let's say he stays just as healthy for the rest of his career as he has thus far, but let's also say that he understandably loses some measure of speed as his age trades the digit 3 for its scarier sibling 4.
Let's say he hits leadoff until after he completes his age 43 season, then is dropped in the order. Mmm hmm, I know, it sounds a little crazyhead at times. But Rickey Henderson.
Some hypotheticals upon hypotheticals to consider, then:
Ichiro ages 38 and 39: 450 hits
Ichiro ages 40 and 41: 415 hits
Ichiro ages 42 and 43: 385 hits
Ichiro ages 44 and 45: 350 hits
At his 46th birthday party in October 2019, Ichiro glances at his mantle, spies his handy-dandy hit counter bobblehead and notices that it reads 4,060.
"Knowing" what we believe we probably have convinced ourselves we second-handedly "know" about Ichiro, does he stop there? With fewer than 200 little teeny tiny knocks to go, between him and first place? Right. I don't think so either.