A quick glimpse into the unique experience of playing baseball, watching baseball and covering baseball when Ichiro Suzuki is involved…
In today’s ninth inning, with a runner on base, Chris Davis lifted a deep fly ball to right field. It was extremely high, and while it initially looked like a routine out, Ichiro kept drifting back, back, back. Occasionally, he would turn his body as if preparing to either play the ball off the ball or making a running leap at the fence. He always seemed to be tracking the ball just fine, but he never seemed sure he would have room to make a play.
“I was just having fun,” he explained. “I’m a professional, so it’s good to get things excited. Obviously the result is the most important. If you look like you’re going to get it and it goes over the fence, obviously the fans wouldn’t be excited about it. But if the fans thought, ‘Oh no!’ and then you make a play, I think humans want to come from a bad place to a good place, in general. So that’s all it was.”
Yes, Ichiro was messing with everyone in Yankee Stadium. Did he really know he had it the whole time, and there was no chance of it going over his head? Ichiro nodded silently before answering, without his translator: “Absolutely.”
But what about poor Ivan Nova watching from the mound?
“I kind of feel bad about that, but once again, he feels really good afterwards,” Ichiro said.