Another usual Ichiro article, but there are some interesting points and I’ve got something to add.
He reveals having to change his ever-crucial rhythm at the plate because most pitchers, unlike so many Japanese pitchers, don’t hesitate at the top of delivery. Before he reached the age of 20, he was rejecting the advice of respected hitting coaches because he knew he was right. He says virtually all of his home runs – usually stunning shots highly reminiscent of a power hitter – are intentional. He speaks of deliberately playing certain hitters shallow in the outfield, just to make them angry, “so they lose their temper a little bit and try to hit the ball too hard – but never once did a ball get past me.”
Even when the mood becomes angry and confrontational on the field, you’ll find the man in character. If is a pitch is thrown straight at Ichiro’s head in the midst of a beanball episode, “I refuse to believe it was intentional,” he says. The pitch just got away, that’s all. Better to maintain his focus and concentration.
Does anything ever break the man? Perhaps it came on a day in Oakland in 2003. Chasing 200 hits, his most cherished statistic, he’d been in a deep slump. When he finally got the hit (Sept. 20), he cried in right field, admitting, “That’s how much it meant.”
He cried, however, behind the shield of sunglasses. No one knew.
That’s very Ichiro. Determined, cool, hard working, and intelligent ballplayer. Then again, he was very openly emotional on the WBC champion Team Japan in 2006, but this took the Japanese public by surprise as well.
Then there’s this:
I suspect there isn’t much to know – not in a negative sense. Maybe he’s got a few secrets he’d just as soon keep to himself, but the Japanese media, like their counterparts everywhere, can be cruelly intrusive. As we’ve seen with Hideo Nomo and so many others, writers and photographers dutifully record every move, right down to the adjustment of a belt buckle.
In the glowing reports about the latest Japanese pitching sensation, Yu Darvish (he has an Iranian father), we learn that he once posed naked for a magazine and actively cultivates an image that finds teenage girls swooning all over him. Tsuyoshi Shinjo, who played on the Giants’ 2002 World Series team, turned out to be most skilled in a modeling studio. And then there is Ichiro, his image spotless. It seems that his life away from baseball is a series of refreshingly blank pages.
But weekly tabloid Friday reported in 2001, Ichiro’s magnificient rookie year, that the already married Ichiro was linked to a 20 year old Japanese exchange student and the weekly even got hold of a tape with their sexual conversation. That, and before marrying his wife Ichiro had relations with a married woman in his last year in Japan. Those are the only off the field scandals for Ichiro Suzuki. Still a pretty clean slate when compared to typical superstars (in any field), I’d imagine :P