Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Yanks Win With Ichiro

In the olden days of yore, when George Steinbrenner was really The Boss, he was one of those sports team owners who would make a trade just for the sake of "shaking things up."

Such trades -- George's and anyone else's -- rarely worked.  Instead of "shaking things up," they left us "all shook up." Uh-uh.  Uh-uh.  And no "Yay, yay, yay."

Yesterday, the Yankees traded 2 pitchers most of us didn't even know they had to the Seattle Mariners, against whom we were beginning a series, for a guy the M's were desperate to get rid of, because otherwise he would leave at the end of the season when his contract ran out.

Ichiro Suzuki, the face of their franchise since his arrival in 2001.

I used to tease Mariner fans by calling him "Fluky Suzuki" and saying he was just a flash in the pan. Boy, was I wrong: He's built a Hall of Fame career, even if you don't count what he did in his homeland's leagues.

Respecting the Yankee tradition, he refused to take the Number 51 he's always worn, as it has not been given out (though not officially retired) since Bernie Williams left. He took Number 31, which has been given out many times since Hall-of-Famer Dave Winfield was unceremoniously traded, and usually given to mediocre pitchers -- although should-be Hall-of-Famer Tim Raines wore it with distinction.

Ichiro batted 8th last night, accepted a nice hand from the Mariner fans (who know that their club's cost-cutting management was the bad guy in this, not Ichiro himself), got a hit, stole a base, and caught the final out.

He was the story last night. The real story was another Japanese player, Yankee pitcher Hiroki Kuroda. He went 7 innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits and 1 walk, with 9 strikeouts, advancing his record to 10-7. David Robertson pitched a scoreless 8th, and Rafael Soriano a scoreless 9th for his 25th save.

The veteran Kevin Millwood started for the M's, and didn't pitch poorly, but gave up enough to lower his record to 3-8. Another ex-Mariner, Alex Rodriguez, was the hitting star, collecting his 2,870th and 2,871st career hits -- his 509th double and his 644th home run. Mark Teixeira had 2 doubles. The Yankees won, 4-1, and snapped a 4-game losing streak.

Ichiro. A Yankee. Wow.

But I certainly don't object: He's just the kind of player the Yankees need, a good (formerly great) defensive outfielder who can get on base and run. An older, Asian, perhaps still better version of Brett Gardner, who's out for the season. When Nick Swisher returns from injury, Ichiro will move over to left field. And I certainly don't object to the fact that the Yankees gave up so little for him.

But that the Mariners got so little for him? If I were a Mariner fan, I'd be yelling, "EXPLAIN THIS BULLSHIT!"

But the explanation has already been given: Mariner management is cutting costs. They're not in it to win it.

You know, when a player loses on purpose, he's banned for life. When an owner (or ownership group) is effectively losing on purpose, they get hailed for running "a sound business model."

This is why Barack Obama would make a better baseball team owner than Mitt Romney. Obama would play to win. Romney would sell off the stars, raise ticket prices, and lay off a lot of people, from scouting staff to concession stand workers.

However, it's a known fact that the Yankees haven't won a World Series with a Republican as President since 1958 (Dwight D. Eisenhower). With Democrats in the White House, they've since won 9: 1961 & '62 (John F. Kennedy), 1977 & '78 (Jimmy Carter), 1996, '98, '99 & 2000 (Bill Clinton) and 2009 (Obama).

So if you're a Yankee Fan, and thinking of voting for Romney, remember: It's like being a Yankee Fan and voting for Calvin Griffith, when you could have George Steinbrenner.

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