There’s little question that Ichiro Suzuki is one of the best hitters in all of baseball. The Mariners right-fielder just recorded his 2,000th career hit since arriving from Japan, and is on pace for a record 9th consecutive 200+ hit season. His distinctive batting stance, rocket arm and ubiquitous stretching are known the world round, yet off the field the mysterious Suzuki maintains a low profile; a rare star who shies away from the public eye.
The only real glimpses that fans get into the brain of this hitting machine come through his interviews, where he has shown equal skill in producing memorable quotes as he has slapping singles through a hole in the infield. Ichiro has opened up more to the media since he first landed in the States back in 2001, but it seems the more he speaks, the less people understand him. The star rightfielder for the Seattle Mariners has graced America with his opinions on everything from the city of Cleveland to female bowlers, here’s a look at some of his best:
10. On his first match-up in America against Dice-K: “I hope he arouses the fire that’s dormant in the innermost recesses of my soul. I plan to face him with the zeal of a challenger.” (Lefton, Brad. Dice-K vs. Ichiro: History to Repeat. Seattle Times; April 19, 2007)
9. Speaking to Japanese reporters about the advice he received from his dog, Ikky, on whether to resign with the Mariners: “He said, ‘Woof, woof, woof,’ which meant, ‘Stay, stay, stay’. Of course, I listened.” (Issenberg, Sasha. Parsing the Increasingly Bizarre Sayings of Ichiro Suzuki. Slate.com; August 1, 2007)
8. Talking about his initial encounter with Ken Griffey Jr: “It was the first time I can remember being moved by the beauty of a baseball player’s action on the field.” (Lefton, Brad. Mariners Magazine. August 2009)
7. After misplaying a flyball in Cleveland: “The ball became the same color as the sky. So, I wasn’t able to see it. It’s not that I had my eyes closed. I was lacking mental signals. I was sending mental signals for the ball not to come my way, because during that time of day it’s impossible for me to see the ball so I lacked mental signals. I lacked in that area.” (Baker, Geoff. Mariners Blog. Seattle Times. May 30, 2007)
6. Referring to the Mariners’ struggles in the first half of 2006: ”If there is a problem, we need to notice what creates the problem. The problem usually isn’t just on the cover. You need to look much deeper. For example, if we’re talking about a tree and the tree has a problem, you need to look at the root. But you cannot see the root. The mistake is to keep watering the fruit. That’s not going to solve anything.” (Harding, Thomas. Ichiro: Mariners Need to Look Within. MLB.com; July 10, 2006)
5. Ichiro on whether he sought out help when struggling at the plate: “If I’m in a slump, I ask myself for advice.” (Whiting, Robert. Around the Horn: Interview with Ichiro. japanesebaseball.com; November 11, 2002)
4. His opinion of Tiger Woods; “Tiger is a great golfer, but … when you say athlete, I think of Carl Lewis. When you talk about [golfers or race-car drivers], I don’t want to see them run. It’s the same if you were to meet a beautiful girl and go bowling. If she’s an ugly bowler, you are going to be disappointed.” (Issenberg, Sasha. Parsing the Increasingly Bizarre Sayings of Ichiro Suzuki. Slate.com; August 1, 2007)
3. Ichiro’s thoughts on becoming a designated hitter: “I think one of the requirements for being a DH is weighing at least 200 pounds, so maybe if I was that heavy I would do it,” he said. “[But] the day I weigh 200 pounds is the day I’m inside a coffin.” (Caple, Jim. Ichiro Has Mastered the Short Game. ESPN.com)
2. The Mariners’ rightfield glowing praise for the city of Cleveland: “To tell the truth, I’m not excited to go to Cleveland, but we have to. If I ever saw myself saying I’m excited going to Cleveland, I’d punch myself in the face, because I’m lying.” (Stone, Larry. Mariners Notebook. Seattle Times; June 11, 2007)
1. Ichiro on what he looks for in a lady: “Chicks who dig home runs aren’t the ones who appeal to me. I think there’s sexiness in infield hits because they require technique. I’d rather impress the chicks with my technique than with my brute strength. Then, every now and then, just to show I can do that, too, I might flirt a little by hitting one out.” (Lefton, Brad. Suzuki on a First-Name Basis With Records. New York Times; August 22, 2009)
Ichiro Suzuki. Batting Champion, All-Star, Hall-of-Famer…the next Descartes?
Filed under: AL West, Seattle Mariners Tagged: | AL West, Brad Lefton, Carl Lewis, Cleveland Indians, daisuke matzusaka, descartes, dice-k, Ichiro, ichiro quotes, ichiro suzuki, ichiro suzuki quotes, Jim Caple, Ken Griffey Jr., Larry Stone, New York Times, Seattle Mariners, Seattle Times, Tiger Woods