The M's leave Japan with a two-game split that can be characterized as typical of the Zduriencik-era ballclubs. The offense sputtered and the starting pitching was phenomenal. Apart from Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, and Ichiro, the Mariners looked horrendous at the plate, and the team's relief pitching was fairly lackluster in the second game.
But despite the team's obvious shortcomings and strengths, I was enraptured by Ichiro's explosive Opening Day, and I think the picture at right captures his night pretty well. Ichiro's heritage is clearly very important to him, and it's fantastic that he got to thrill his countrymen for a night. The right-fielder is a celebrity from a nation with an extremely different culture than America. Unlike America's Justin Bieber, whose blandly non-lyrical songs eclipse even his squeaky voice in repugnance, Ichiro has his own bizarre gameshow and a similarly quirky impersonator. He toys with the American media and wears bright pink shirts to batting practice. Ichiro is a fascinating human being and a fantastic ballplayer; and I'm thankful that the Japanese have the wherewithal to appreciate him.