The headlines varied from Seattle to New York to Tokyo
“Ichiro Trade: Watershed moment for M’s,” said The Seattle Times
“Yankees get Ichiro; fading hit machine fills need for speed,” wrote the New York Post
“Mariners trade Ichiro to Yanks,” the Japan Times put it simply.
Ichiro Suzuki, an icon in Seattle, was traded to the New York Yankees Monday for a pair of pitching prospects. To add to the twist involving one of the most-hated rivals of Mariners fans, Ichiro appeared in the Yankees lineup at Safeco Field, batting 8th against his old team.
Ichiro got a hit in his first at-bat in the 4-1 Yankees win.
Fan reaction is mixed and, as you can bet, the ones wearing pinstripes seem to be a little bit happier about it.
“I’m pretty bittersweet. He’s been with the team for a long time. He’s given so much of himself,” said Mariners fan Joanna Wilson. “He’s a huge icon, so it’s really sad to see him go.”
“It’s exciting and we look forward to it,” said Yankees fan Randy Coll. “They’re a great first place team, won the World Series many times. Hopefully this will help the winning again this year.”
Mariners legend Jay Buhner said last week he would "vomit" if the Mariners signed Ichiro to a big contract, clarifying that he believed it would be better for the team to spend the money on more than one player.
“I think, in the long run, it takes a huge albatross off their shoulders,” said Bill Swartz of 710 ESPN Seattle. “They don't have to deal with 'Do we re-sign Ichiro next year and at what price?'"
Ben Gibbard, lead singer for Seattle-based “Death Cab for Cutie” and “Postal Service” released an Ode to Ichiro Monday. He said he wrote it a few years ago, but made it public after the trade.
“Go, go, go, go Ichiro.
Rounding 3rd and heading for home.
Don’t you know.
He beats the throw.”
Excitement in Japan
Japan reacted to the trade with surprise and anticipation that the move might lead to a World Series ring. Suzuki is the most recognizable athlete in Japan, where he is revered for his stoicism, perseverance and attention to detail.
All the major Japanese newspapers splashed the move on the front pages of their Tuesday editions, with photos of Suzuki in his Yankees uniform. It was the top item on the news for public broadcaster NHK.
"He's the top Japanese athlete in the world, both in terms of fame and skill," said Takuya Matsuo, a 26-year-old from Yokohama. "The Yankees have a strong image, so this increases the chances he'll win a World Series. He is getting older, so he probably wanted to see if he could experience being a champion. It'll be fun to watch a fellow Japanese give it his best.”
Japanese evening TV shows dissected his at-bats in his first game Monday, when he got a hit in his first outing against his old team and then stole second base, his 16th of the season. Suzuki went 1 for 4 in his Yankees debut and caught the final out in New York's 4-1 victory over Seattle on Monday at Safeco Field.
His father Nobuyuki Suzuki said it felt the same as when his son joined the pros at age 18.
"More than being happy, my feeling is just go for it," he told Japanese TV networks. "Whatever team you're on, baseball is the same.
Compiled by Travis Pittman with reports from Jake Whittenberg, Kirsten Joyce and Associated Press.