This has all been one of the wildest and funnest journeys I could've hoped for as a card collector and as a baseball fan in general.
It seems like it all happened in an instant, but it also seems like it happened across a lifetime. Both are probably true, especially when looked at through the benefit of hindsight.
Nonetheless, the end eventually comes for all of us. Even the very best and brightest are not immune from the passing of time. But in the end, what matters is how the ride to the end turned out to be. In my opinion, it was a lot of fun. I'm hope it was for all of you too.
I am of course talking about how Ichiro Suzuki officially announced that he is joining the Seattle Mariners' front office for the rest of the 2018 season. Effectively ending his playing career for the time being.
This is something that I always knew was going to happen, but it still seems way to surreal to me to actually acknowledge that Ichiro's playing career may potentially be over.
I worded the last two sentences like it's only temporary because I'm holding onto the last grain of hope that he's not officially retired (he's not). There is a possibility he decides to pick up a bat and glove again next year (especially for the Mariners vs Oakland Athletics series in Japan), and given how the Mariners have jack shit in terms of a farmsystem or even serviceable outfield depth he's not going to have much of a problem finding a roster spot.
Still though, assuming that this is the end of the road for Ichiro, it does hit me a bit harder than I thought it would. It hit me even harder than Big Hirok or A-Rod deciding to retire.
Partly because Ichiro was one of THE first public figures I ever knew about. I was about seven when he came stateside and became a baseball sensation. He's been a pretty significant figure for pretty much all of my life.
There was always something really comforting about Ichiro. His consistency. Both as a player (at least until 2011) and as a big figure in my world.
I was the little Japanese-American kid in NYC casually watching a sport I wouldn't give a shit about for another decade, just to see Ichiro be heralded as this super great. I was the Americanized teenager who just moved to Japan to get in touch with his motherland/culture, only to see how much of a big deal he was to that entire country. I was the 20-something college kid who came back to America with a newfound respect for baseball, and aware of it's place in both American and Japanese society, to see that Ichiro was A). a Yankee now (YAY!) and B). so much greater than I thought he was when I finally started looking at him through the proper context, as a baseball player.
Basically, he's been somewhere in my world for my entire conscious life. Even before I became the sports lover I am now. This new era in his life will alter the way he's there, but I hope he'll continue to be there forever regardless.
Other Japanese players would come into the picture later and I love(d) them all too, but Ichiro was always at the top for me. Even if I never really devoted a collection to him. I still won't though. For me Ichiro's always been the figure that I don't need to collect or chase. He's so ubiquitous that he I can just appreciate him from a distance with no problem. He just enters my world at random.
Case in point, a vendor gave me this McFarlane figure for free at a card show once.
He's an all time great, and I'll leave the pieces about what he achieved on the baseball diamond (both here and in Japan) to more competent people. All I can really say in that regard is that he leaves behind one of the greatest legacies in baseball ever. We should all consider ourselves fortunate to have witnessed it first hand.
So let us now begin the very last Ichi-Meter, the countdown for his Cooperstown inauguration (as a Yankee).
As always thanks for stopping by and take care.