Dispatch #7: ICHIRO SUZUKI, THE STAR OF BASEBALL

Screenshot (84)

That an inactive fansite should survive such a span of time – three administrations, several wars, five Star Wars films – is not remarkable. The internet is vast, and great swaths of it have succumbed to link rot, domain scrapers, the churn of ISPs, but most of it remains, hidden only by the great volume of new content. Your Blogger site is still kicking around somewhere, as is your Myspace page. These digital presences accumulate as a matter of course, and as we abandon them they spread out behind us like a wake.

“Dispatch #7: ICHIRO SUZUKI, THE STAR OF BASEBALL,” for Sinkhole magazine

Advertisements

Dispatch #5: American Berserk

Mark_mcgwire

In American Pastoral, Philip Roth identified a strain of dark anxiety he deemed the “indigenous American berserk,” and the contemporary home run seems to speak to that anxiety, expressing aspects of America’s gobbling ambition, its voraciousness, the muscly sense that to grind a ball into dust is a better and more exclamatory statement than a thing done lightly or delicately.

“Dispatch #5: American Berserk,” for Sinkhole magazine

Dispatch #4: Gradually, and then all of a sudden

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What made the prospect of him continuing to play so alluring an idea for me was not simply the pure aesthetic joy of watching him toil in a fashion so idiosyncratic and stylistically anomalous that it seemed he was playing a different game altogether, but that his familiar presence put me in touch with the person I was a long time ago, a time and a person from which and from whom I am otherwise exceptionally distant.

“Dispatch #4: Gradually, and then all of a sudden,” for Sinkhole magazine

Dispatch #3: The sense of an ending

ichiro-sun-4

Who tells the future Hall of Famer that his time is up? Is it up to the future Hall of Famer to know it himself? That’s what leads, of course, to potentially uncomfortable situations like this one. But maybe there isn’t another way. Maybe that fire which made a player like Ichiro as good as he for so long was is the same heat which prevents such individuals from giving up the fight until they’re forced to do so.

“Dispatch #3: The sense of an ending,” for Sinkhole magazine

Dispatch #2: The weight of expectation

Ichiro_Suzuki_on_May_10,_2011_(2)

Prior to Ichiro in 2001, only pitchers had made the Pacific jump, which certainly contributed to the doubts confronting Ichiro that first spring. It also didn’t help that he had, and has, a body type more common among jockeys than sluggers. What became apparent, though, as that first summer warmed and then broke into its full floral display, was that Ichiro had a body and a set of skills perfectly suited to a style of play most certainly foreign to the homer-happy American game circa the turn of this century. In exploiting said game’s ample seams and pores, he found great – historic, in fact – success.

“Dispatch #2: The weight of expectation,” for Sinkhole magazine

Dispatch #1: A handful of dirt

summer_koshien_2009_final

What makes Ichiro such a compelling ballplayer and figure, then and now… is precisely what makes watching the Spring Koshien so entrancing. It’s baseball, unquestionably, but baseball after a direct collision of the familiar and the foreign. Baseball as filtered through a completely unique set of traditions.

“Dispatch #1: A handful of dirt,” the first installment of a season-long column about Ichiro, baseball, and culture, for Sinkhole magazine

Ichiro Runs the Numbers Down

You’re welcome to split all the hairs you like, cling with arthritic digits to the go-go, vial-in-pocket exuberance of Pete Rose’s heyday and say, as Rose gaseously has, that Ichiro’s great and all but he’s sure as hell not the all-time hit leader, because he notched his first 1,278 in Japan which, sorry, ain’t no major league. We can have that debate, if you’re dead set on digging your heels in, or we can say that they’re different things, both impressive, and agree that the only loser here is the already besmirched respectability of Rose, a man clutching with deathlike desperation at the remaining tatters of his relevance. It’s hard to blame him, when everything’s weighed, but that doesn’t render his graceless reaction to all this any more becoming.

“Ichiro Runs the Numbers Down,” for Eephus

Until There Is No Ichiro Left

Since he erupted onto our domestic diamonds that last Edenic pre-9/11 spring and summer, Ichiro has offered a pleasing opacity. He has been a quiet and stoically unreadable fixture in constant warming motion, his unending stretching, bending, lunging, and flexing providing a silent castigation of unpreparedness and sloth. He’s been so constant for so long that watching him decline seemed unthinkable, and indeed still largely does.

“Until There Is No Ichiro Left,” at Vice Sports