Today, I was asked: Why does Ichiro Suzuki’s jersey say, Ichiro, but on the batting order, they put up Suzuki?

This is mostly because he is a narcissist. When he was in Japan, he wanted to be different from the others, he wanted to be an “individual”. So he received permission to wear his first name on his back rather than his last. This caused quite a stir in Japan, as you can imagine, since Japan is the land of conformity, group consciousness, etc. There was precedent, however. One foreign player in Japan, Brad Lesley, had his college nickname–Animal–put on the back of his jersey. Ultimately, Suzuki’s talent won out. He excelled and everyone thought–sho ganai–and let him wear his first name.

In the States, since the custom is to use everyone’s last name on the shirt and everywhere else, I was sure that he would have Suzuki on his back over here. But I guess he got some kind of waiver in his contract or something–the Mariners are owned, I think, by Nintendo, a Japanese corp.

If you listened to the announcers on TV, most–especially the purists–called him Suzuki at first, but most now refer to him as Ichiro. Even Joe Morgan calls him Ichiro, now. I think Joe Buck of Fox still calls him Suzuki.

In any case, I thought there was no way that he could succeed in the US; I was kinda of counting on it, actually. He is just to egotistical for my tastes. He wants his name on his back to be different, to call attention to himself, but when the press move in, he claims his right to privacy. If Reggie Jackson put Reggie on his back, he would’ve had a field day. But Suzuki is a closet individualists. He wants notoriety, but only as much as he can control. As far as I’m concerned, he can keep it.

But I must admit, he turned out better than I could have ever imagined. They say he has great body control, and can hit a home run more often if he wanted to, but I have never seen this. He usually exposes himself as a weak slap hitter who looks like he’s bailing out of the batter’s box when he swings.

What has actually impresseed me is his speed and his defense. He was fast in Japan but I didn’t think it would translate here in the big leagues, but it did. And the dude has got an arm! His throw to third or home is on a clothes line.

This is not the first time I have said anything like this. Previously, some have expressed surprised that I wouldn’t want or care for Suzuki to do well. Why? Because I was JA.


What does that have to do with it? What a racist remark. Reminds me of a scene in Rising Sun, a book–and movie–dripping with racism by Michael Crichton. Lt. Smith is surprised that Dr. Tim–a Japanese-American coroner–thinks the Japanese can be a pain in the ass.

How can people be so pathetically ignorant?

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