I’ve had enough. This is as far as I go. The end of the line. The last straw of what has been a rough offseason.
Free agents might not be able to find jobs. The lack of news might be making us all crazy. The baseball season might be about to start with 100-something free agents just floating in the wind, having recently signed a below-market contract or actively holding out on teams. But that whole mess doesn’t even matter if we don’t have one thing: Ichiro.
This week, there were reports that Ichiro Suzuki, long may he play, may be returning to Japan to play baseball since no MLB team is offering him a contract. With the Marlins declining his $2 million option (which was expected), he’s one of the many free agents without a job. His agent told MLB.com that he’s holding out hope for a team to realize Ichiro could still help it. But until that happens he’s considering heading back to Japan.
Current reports say that both the Mariners and Padres had conversations with Ichiro’s camp but they’ve died down, and teams are now saying to check back in closer to spring training. And to that I say those teams are crazy, and SOMEBODY PLEASE SIGN ICHIRO for goodness sake.
There might not be much time left! The Chunichi Dragons are showing interest; they are located close to Ichiro’s hometown and as such might be particularly tempting. If he and his agent start calling teams close to spring training and there’s still more than 100 free agents to compete with for a spot, that might be dispiriting. He might leave. He might never come back.
We could lose the joy of Ichiro because owners are being persnickety with their wallets. Oh, also because the entire foundation of baseball’s economic system is crumbling, but mostly the first part. And I’m angry.
This is one step too far. The way this baseball offseason is operating might mean I’ve been watching way too many figure skating videos from 1989 on YouTube lately and, yes, contemplating whether this is collusion or not every day does seem like it’s so fun to do, and I hope it lasts forever.
But so many other things could happen that I would find acceptable that are not Ichiro going back to Japan. We cannot lose Ichiro. Not now. Not in a 2018 that looks like it’s definitely going to be closer to the horrors of 2017 than not. I won’t allow it. I will call front offices myself and beg them.
They can pay him anything! It’s not like he’s even expensive! Search between your couch cushions or cancel Netflix for a month or start drinking the off-brand kombucha after the gym! But for the love of god, don’t let Ichiro sign anywhere else. We need him too much right now.