Ichiro isn't gone from baseball - having gone to New York, he's very much the opposite - but he is gone from the Mariners, now and presumably forever. Though he's a free agent at the end of the season, the whole point of the trade is that now Ichiro and the Mariners don't have to be all awkward with each other in the fall. The band aid's been ripped off, and the wound is already starting to heal.
Whenever somebody beloved departs, it's customary to reflect on favorite memories and anecdotes. There's no shortage of fond memories associated with Ichiro, and the first one that comes to my mind, of course, is the walk-off homer against Mariano Rivera. I remember where I was when that happened, and I remember jumping up and down in my dorm room when Ichiro broke the single-season hit record. Other people have reflected on The Throw, and The Catch, if people refer to Ichiro robbing Garret Anderson as The Catch. There was Ichiro's first-ever hit. There was Ichiro's first-ever walk-off hit. There was the skeptical talk about Ichiro during his first spring training. There's been a lot.
To be completely honest, though: other players have delivered walk-offs against Mariano Rivera. Other players have uncorked unbelievable throws, and made unbelievable catches. I don't know if anybody's been ejected the way that Ichiro was ejected by Brian Runge on September 26, 2009.
There's no single clip that captures Ichiro in a nutshell, but there are clips that capture bits of Ichiro in a nutshell, and this is one of them. This might be the most calm and composed ejection I've ever seen. It's not that it was unwarranted - the pitch in question was a borderline strike, and you simply aren't allowed to draw lines in the dirt with your bat. It's an unwritten rule of which everyone's aware. Ichiro violated the code, but he did so while remaining under almost complete emotional control. If anybody here was truly worked up, it was Brian Runge, who stared Ichiro down as he punched him out the second time.
The best part is the line-drawing and the ejection. The second-best part is that this was published on Mariners.com just the night before.
The mild-mannered Mariners continue their final road trip of the regular season on Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre working on a streak.
Not one player, coach or manager has been ejected, and with only eight games remaining, the chances are good that the Mariners will play an entire season without having anyone kicked out of a game.
Through 154 games, the Mariners didn't have a single member of the team get ejected. In game number 155, Ichiro Suzuki was ejected. Not because he lost his cool, but because he very coolly disagreed with the umpire's decision. Ichiro traced exactly where the pitch had gone in the dirt. The pitch was off the plate. It just so happens that umpires like to grant pitches off the plate to left-handed hitters.
Ichiro going deep off of Rivera might forever be my fondest Ichiro memory in a Mariners uniform. Ichiro getting ejected by Brian Runge might forever be the most unique Ichiro memory. There's plenty of competition, of course, even if you're just talking about fashion, but on this afternoon in Toronto, it was easy to get the sense that Ichiro was an efficient, well-calibrated machine, playing a game with humans.