In 2001 a baseball player from Japan started his major league career with the Seattle Mariners. He was an instant hit. He's still so recognizable, he need go only by his first name. Ichiro.
When Ichiro Suzuki was named Rookie of the Year at the end of his first season with the Mariners, some MLB fans grumbled that he didn't deserve it because he had already spent ten seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball. Oh, he was named American League MVP in 2001, too.
Now he has spent ten MLB seasons dazzling baseball fans here and there with his amazing ability. As one of the most consistent players in the league, he continues to rack up hits and compile records; most recently he set the MLB record for most consecutive seasons (ten, every season he's been in MLB) with 200 or more hits. Yet, there are detractors. Jack Gallagher, a writer for The Japan Times, is one. On October 2, The Japan Times published a piece by Gallagher where he claims that Ichiro is over-hyped and that there is no comparison between him and Pete Rose, who also has ten career 200+ hit seasons (although not consecutively).
Marty Kuehnert, Senior Advisor to the Rakuten Golden Eagles of the NPB and long-time Japanese and U.S. baseball executive, was frustrated not only by Gallagher's negative opinions about Ichiro, but by the lack of a forum with which to publish a response. So, Marty turned to JapanBall. He and Bob Bavasi, the force behind JapanBall, have been friends for years, so of course, Bob was more than happy to offer the JapanBall newsletter as a platform. Still, it was important to take it further. As the administrator of the JapanBall Facebook page, I posted the full text of Marty's defense of Ichiro there. Brandon Siefken also posted it on his website, japanbaseballnews.com. Jon Gat, an alumnus of the JapanBall tours, discussed it on his personal blog. I've decided to do the same here on shrinecastle.
Below is the full text of Marty Kuehnert's opinions regarding Ichiro Suzuki and his unprecedented skills as a baseball player at any level of the game. Before I get to that, however, I wanted to mention one more thing about Ichiro's ten consecutive seasons with 200 or more hits. Whose record did he break? His own.
ICHIRO SUZUKI -- A NATIONAL, NO, WORLD TREASURE