Note: Below are excerpts from a series of reports on Ichiro Suzuki filed by an anonymous scout for the Cincinnati Reds organization. These reports are not exhaustive.
PLAYER: Ichiro Suzuki
TEAM: Orix Blue Wave
GRADES: Hit: 50/40 Power: 25/25 Speed: 55/45 Defense: 50/50
Interesting profile. Makes consistent contact but slaps pitches into dirt. He beats throws because he runs out of box during swing (Illegal?).
Poor-man’s Kenny Lofton in both field and hit. Bat control decent enough to handle inferior Japanese pitching but slap-mechanics will be overmatched with MLB velo.
Small frame and already 27. No projection. Can throw the ball a bit. Maybe a pitcher?
Tweener AAA type. Doesn’t play American style of baseball. Not for us.
Other oddities: weird stretching routine before at bat. Holds bat like sword/candle (??) pre-pitch. Japanese fans love it but will not gel with MLB players/fans. Not worth the risk.
UPDATE (7/17/00): Hustle: 20/20(!!!)
In response to your notes about the amount of other teams interested I have updated my report:
Refuses to dirty uniform to dive for close plays (germaphobe?). Not a high-effort player. Would rather hit than walk and help team win. Loves all the attention and won’t get that here.
Body won’t hold up for a full season. Looks brittle as a bird. A heron, maybe. He sort of glides around the field like his weight is being carried by invisible wings. He floats. Hard to describe. Unnerving to watch.
Mariners are all over him. They can have him, something is off (Low ass?).
DO NOT ACQUIRE.
Side note: looking forward to returning from Japan assignment, the food here does not agree with me. They undercook their fish. Dangerous.
UPDATE (4/11/01): Defense: 55/55
Guy makes one throw and they think he’s Bo Jackson. Big deal. Put him on the mound, then, where he belongs.
UPDATE (6/12/01): Hit: 55/50
Responding to your request for another report, again:
Weird first few months, admittedly. I know I put my reputation on the line, but I still don’t see it. His numbers look good now, but just wait until the league adjusts. Plays power position but doesn’t drive ball. Literally falls over as he swings. That’s how my three-year-old daughter Jessica swings.
Still making contact, though. Lucky bounces. Swiped a few bags. Will get a few of those. People don’t seem to mind weird pre-batting stance/ritual. Some kids in concourse mimicking it (mocking??). Team is playing well around him, makes him look better. Still something… off.
Side note: Bret Boone is the one we should be looking at. Plays with heart and hustle like his brother. Great makeup. Good body, high-ass. Why aren’t we looking at him?
UPDATE (09/02/02): Power: 30/30
I know I’m not here for him, but Dave keeps grilling me about the Ichiro kid. He says I screwed up big time. Says I missed something.
Look, Dave (I know you are reading these, I saw one of my reports pinned in the breakroom for everyone to mock), the kid is just not a major league ball player. Anyone can hit if you chuck your bat at the baseball and start sprinting to first. Hell I can throw my bat at a baseball and run. He’s just fast. The game needs more McGwire's, not Ichiros (first name on jersey?? why is the league bending over backward for him??).
The game will never embrace him. Erstad without the hustle and less power. Will wash out of this league long before I do.
Even his BP’s are a mirage but I’ve added an extra 5 for the few balls that left the yard during my (too long) time here.
Guy is not a winner, period.
Side note: My daughter Jessica is asking why I don’t work as much as I used to and I think that’s a good question. I just bought a new home for my family in Cinci, as you know, but half my trips are to watch the same team and evaluate a player I have already reported on. At this point it feels intentional. If I am getting let go or reassigned, I would like some answers. I already made my deposit.
UPDATE (09/20/04): Hit: 65/50
Enough. Yes. I see that he has broken the hit record. I have updated his score, but this is temporary. He will disappear. His legs will go and so will he.
And, if you haven’t noticed, the Mariners have not won anything with him on the roster. I do not believe this is a coincidence. I have a theory.
And (DAVE DO NOT READ) I know that you know that I have had to sell my home. Tanya has left me and taken Jessica with her. Tanya says I have not been the same since Japan (the fish?). I am now in an apartment outside of Seattle. I am very close to shopping my (highly respected) skills to new teams. What is my future here?
Side note: I have watched Ichiro place his bats in cases like they are made of diamonds. I have seen him eat the same meal (Japanese curry) before every game. Watched him stretch the same muscles for the same length of time (I have timed him). He takes the same number of swings during practice. It is too calculated. Too exact. I fear that if I said what I think I would be up on the break room wall again. But someone should look into his abnormal behaviors.
UPDATE (7/23/05): Speed: 60/45
They call him a god in Japan, well that says a lot about that culture, don’t you think? If he is a god he is a trickster god. He is a smoke without the fire. He comes in the night and steals your professional reputation and doesn’t have the decency to apologize in English.
The Mariners are paying the price. Their losses are VINDICATION!
Ass is still too low.
UPDATE (8/16/06): Hit: 70/60
This is sadistic, this is a punishment. Ichiro went 4-4 today. You knew he would, didn’t you? You all knew. Did you tell him to look for me in the stands, too? Was this planned?
After his fourth hit, as he rounded second, his eyes found mine above the dugout. A less careful observer would have missed it, or shrugged it off as a glance from a player sliding into third. But I have missed nothing in my decades as a scout.
In his eyes I felt some force attempting to overtake me. A darkness pressing against my heart. I felt the thing glide its way inside my chest and push around the edges of my being, trying to find refuge. I knew he was trying to take me, as he had the others. I resisted. I understand how this sounds, but you weren't there (DAVE!).
I realize this is how he has done it: He has hypnotized us. The bat held aloft in front of him, that he pulls from the black cases, are not simple wooden tools. No. The bats are the totems of witchdoctors, the wands of a witch, the instrument by which he performs his spells over team and fan. And his stretches, too, performed in perfect synchronicity at precise times, are not meant to prevent pulled muscles. They are rituals of the incantation, the dances of the devil.
The air is heavy here. Thick and cloying. The people chant in staccato rhythms when he walks to the plate, firmly under his influence.
I, too, cannot breathe when he steps to bat. I cannot look away. He will not let me.
UPDATE (8/28/06): Witchcraft: 80/80
I respectfully reject your termination. This will not be my last report. I have followed the Mariners at each stop, each city. I will expose him for what he is. He will slip up and I will find him there, the Emperor with no clothes, ashamed, revealed to be nothing more than a conjurer.
The food is subpar. I’m sending you my expenses.
UPDATE (5/3/07): Darkness: 80/80
I have an unlimited supply of scouting sheets. Please stop mailing me back my entries. I will not look at them, you are wasting the time of valuable mail persons.
UPDATE (6/12/08): Suffering: 80/80
TO ALL OF THE LOW-ASSES!
You have not witnessed the SUPREME POWER of a SCOUT. I make and break humans using only words and NUMBERS. I DETERMINE the trajectory of LIVES. I place 20/20s on each and every one of you for sending me your vile letters and emails, such as: CEASE AND DESIST. And: WILL REPORT TO POLICE.
It seems so-called ICHIRO has completed his full takeover of AMERICAN SOCIETY with the help of WITCHCRAFT and, if you hadn’t notice, INSULTED the great American state of Ohio in the process.
For shame. I have removed my daughter Jessica from BASEBALL activities so long as he is a presence. Baseball is banned in our household. Tanya has turned against me and so have my so-called friends. Your actions will bring upon you great ruin. The game will die as the Mariners hopes of contention have. He is siphoning us, draining us of power.
I have taken another job (for which I am yet to be paid). I have promoted myself to head of MLB SCOUTING. I now inform all of MLB. I say ICHIRO is a 15/15 in all categories. He has broken the SACRED SCALE.
DO NOT ACQUIRE! NO ONE ACQUIRE!
(SOME ENTRIES INCOMPLETE/BURNED)
UPDATE (03/21/19): Hit: 80/80 Power: 80/80 Speed: 80/80 Defense: 80/80
I dictate this from my hospital bed to my daughter, Jessica. She who does not remember a world without Ichiro.
It is early, here in *********. On the television I see the Mariners are playing the A’s in Japan. His hair is grey, mine white. Ichiro has outlasted me.
I understand, now. There can be no hope found in a life spent searching for flaws--the life of a scout. Not when there are men like Ichiro who defy the categories with which I ordered my world.
I see that in Japan, people weep. Here, in my bed, I do as well.
He has beaten me, and I have suffered for it. Now, I accept. I feel his presence gliding like a heron into my heart, landing softly as if I were a quiet pond and not the shattered remains of a broken old man. His bat is raised aloft, his face resolute, his body turns. I watch him run.
Yet there is still something I will never be able to let go. One fact that I will take with me into the earth and beyond from there. A thought that has formed the shape of my passing, an idea that has a structure and momentum, one last category with which I will evaluate into the next realm.
That thought is this:
They say that Ichiro loves the game more than anyone who has ever played.
But, if you truly love something, why, then, would you break it?
Ed. Note: The MLB and the Cincinnati Reds have denied knowledge of these scouting reports and, though declining to comment publicly, also deny the existence of the scout as a person.