One of my hobbies is watching MLB on TV. NHK broadcasts one or two games a day, but only those that have teams with Japanese players on them. Due to this trend, very naturally I have grown to love the Japanese players, and tend to root for them tirelessly. The most popular players' daily activity is covered on the sports coverage of the evening news , too.
Of course, my favorite is Ichiro. He grew up outside of Nagoya, and I live about 30-45 min. from that area. So over the years, I've begun to feel a personal pride in his accomplishments; he's one of our own, as it were. Why he chose to play with the Mariners, I've never heard an explanation of, but he's been with them for ten years now. The Mariners have one of the greatest baseball players in the history of the game on their team, yet they are unable to make it to the playoffs, and instead come in last place in their division more often than not. This has given them a somewhat underdog status and image. I'm an old Cubs fan, so rooting for the underdogs comes natural to me! (LOL)
For the 2010 season, the Mariners' active roster has some great names on it. Long time Mariner fans were very happy when Ken Griffey Jr came back to the team a year or two ago, but we are all quite grateful he decided to put off his retirement till after this season. He and Ichiro have a great friendship and at the end of their daily batting practice, regularly slug a bunch of homers into the stands, I've heard. Ken loves to tickle Ichiro, who is constantly on his guard, but to no avail. Supposedly he came up with a new type of tickle for this year, which I have yet to see, but hope to catch a glimpse of eventually.
A great addition this season is Chone Figgins, who came from the LA Angels, I believe. He is a great base stealer, which will put him in good company with Ichiro. Already we have seen the fruit come from him joining the team, and I look forward to getting to know him better in the weeks ahead.
Last Saturday the Mariners were able to win four in a row, and put their average at .500. We'll see if they can change their image as the West Coast Underdogs this year, or not. Either way, I'll be rooting with great gusto. Go Mariners!!!