Friday, August 3, 2012

Yankeetorial: Ichiro can't change the Yankees. But could we change him?

Here’s how it plays out in the Brad Pitt movie: It’s the ninth inning of game seven, the 2012 World Series. Yanks down by one. The Giants’ evil Matt Cain – portrayed by a CGI-enhanced Mark Ruffalo - is firing a shutout. Around the globe, children of every ethnicity and Higgs boson-collision-angle hug their electronic devices in rapt attention, as Ichiro – (Brad) - trudges to the plate. Yeesh, he looks old. He’s had a great October, capturing the attention of the world, and even the monster aliens who are monitoring our civilization in outer space. (Touched by the Yankees' heroic campaign, they no longer plan to eradicate us.) Yankee fans weep openly, recalling the final days of Bobby Murcer, or Enos Slaughter, or even Johnny Callison. Ichiro is our last best chance. Here comes the pitch, 100-mph fastball… and the universe stops…

Listen: In Hollywood, we could be "Mighty Ducks V." But in life, we don’t get to game seven unless Joe fixes our RISP problem. Nobody homers their way to the Promised Land. (So the aliens decide, "These Yankee heroes have failed; let's eradicate.") Still, let’s take a moment to honestly assess what Ichiro can and cannot do.

HONEST ASSESSMENT OF WHAT ICHIRO CAN AND CANNOT DO.

1.      When Ichiro switched dugouts in Seattle, every Yankee fan in captivity had the same fantasy analysis: He was bored with the Mariners, and the chance to play meaningful baseball will take 10 years off his swing. Not gonna happen.

2.      Folks couldn’t wait to see that legendary arm – the ball like a proton shooting around a 17-mile buried super-collider and hitting another proton smack in its Playtex Living Girdle. Well, the other night, we saw it. On a crucial throw to the plate that could have saved us a game, Ichiro threw off line and rather buttery. Nick Swisher has a better arm.

3.      Ichiro can still motor. Thus far, he’s beaten out a few DPs. He can probably steal a base or two, but he’s not the mosquito who drives a pitcher batty. He’s not Brett Gardner.

4.      He can reach the right field porch. He’s already hit one. He could hit four or five before the year ends. Woopie. We don’t need another HR hitter.

5.     He’ll do fine in LF. Might not feel comfortable, and let's cross our fingers on a first catchable drive between Ichiro and Grandy. But he’s a defensive upgrade over Raul or Andruw. Not sure he’s better than Dewayne Wise or Darnell McDonald – but he’ll do all right.

6.      He might ride the pines, which could be trouble. One can envision a game seven with Swish in right, Ibanez in left, and Eric Chavez is our DH. He could be a sub. Not sure how he would react to this, but gotta bad feeling.

7.      He doesn’t grind. Ichiro doesn’t draw walks. But here is where every Yankee fan in captivity should consider a different fantasy: Ichiro doesn’t lose 10 years, but he could play 10 years smarter.

OK, THIS IS WHAT I'VE BEEN LEADING TO. ALL THAT OTHER STUFF, FORGET IT. HERE'S THE CONCLUSION... AND I URGE YOU TO PRINT THIS OUT AND SEND IT TO ICHIRO. RENT A SOUND TRUCK AND DRIVE BY HIS HOUSE, READING IT ALOUD. ICHIRO NEEDS TO HEAR THIS. IT MAY NOT ONLY SAVE HIS LIFE, BUT KEEP HUMANITY FROM BEING DESTROYED BY MONSTERS FROM OUTER SPACE:

What if the Yankee mindset rubs off on Ichiro? What if – if instead of being Slappy Suzuki, dribbling grounders to third, he punches foul ball after foul ball, takes at least two pitches before doing anything and starts grinding out walks? Ichiro can lead this team, or at least lead off. He must tweak his game. A .288 on-base percentage won’t cut it.

Here comes the pitch, a 100-mile fastball. Ichiro starts to swing... THEN HOLDS OFF. Ball. High. One and oh. Matt Cain is pissed. He's in our movie now. It’s not Brad Pitt at the plate. It’s Ed Norton. Ichiro needs to change.

GRIND, ICHI, GRIND.

1 comment:

MUSTANG said...

"Don't tell me he can't run anymore."--John Sterling