March 25, 2019 [LINK / comment]
Ichiro Suzuki retires in Japan
After the second of two games he played with the Seattle Mariners in Tokyo, Japan (in which the Mariners beat the Oakland A's again), 45-year old Ichiro Suzuki announced that he has retired from Major League Baseball. It was fitting that was able to make a dramatic farewell in his home country before an adoring crowd. For all the details of the memorable, quite moving occasion, see MLB.com.
Suzuki played for nine years with the Orix of the Japanese Pacific League, and then signed with the Seattle Mariners in November 2000. For the next decade, he put up absolutely stupendous offensive figures, with a batting average over .300 in every year from 2001 through 2010. He tallied 3,089 hits during his career in the majors, and could have become the all-time greatest in that category if he had played for seven or eight of his early years in the major leagues. He was a very smart, very efficient and productive player, comparable in some ways to Pete Rose (4,256 lifetime hits) or Ty Cobb (4,191 lifetime hits) -- the big difference being that he was always a perfect gentleman. He was never known as a power hitter, of course, and only reached the double digits in home runs three times. Tragically, the Mariners did not make it to the postseason at all during the 11 1/2 years he played with the Mariners. Suzuki was traded to the Yankees in July 2012, and had his first postseason experience that October. He played with New York through the end of the 2015 season, and then he signed with the Miami Marlins as a free agent, but didn't get much playing time there last year.
I had the pleasure to see the future Hall of Famer in action twice: in a Mariners-Twins game at Target Field on August 1, 2010, and in a Marlins-Nationals game on October 1, 2016.
Tokyo Dome MAJOR update
(Stop me if you've heard this one before.) So, I realized I needed to make a few tweaks to the Tokyo Dome diagrams, and before you knew it I got completely carried away in my relentless pursuit of extreme accuracy, yadda, yadda, yadda... Just what has changed? I'm glad you asked!
- The grandstand has been "stretched" vertically by about 10 feet, making it a rounded diamond shape rather than a rounded square, which is what it looks like in aerial photographs. Previously the air-supported roof cables were depicted as being "attached" to the support columns, but those columns would have to protrude through the upper deck in order to do so, blocking some fans' view, but that is obviously not the case. In fact, the solid portion of the roof inclined about 20 feet over the back part of the grandstand, and the roof cables attached to the front edge of it.
- As a consequence of the "stretching," the grandstand is now a few rows bigger behind home plate compared to the positions facing first and third base, whereas before the grandstand was the same depth all the way from first to third base.
- The concourse areas around the entire stadium have been expanded by 15-25 feet outward, and are now shown in all diagram variants.
- The entry portals to the outfield seats ("bleachers") are much wider than before. They are located behind the big support columns, and extend a couple feet on either side of them.
So, the previous "minor" update (March 20) in effect doesn't even count, since all that changed was a few interior details. And, for the record, I made some minor tweaks to the Olympic Stadium diagrams.
Spring training comes to an end
The Nationals beat the New York Yankees 5-3 at Nationals Park this afternoon, their first game at home in Washington this spring. Unlike the practice games featuring a motley crew of minor league prospects, this time it was an actual contest with all the first-string players in the lineup. Anthony Rendon and Matt Adams both homered for the Nats, who finished spring training with a 17-12 record, third place in the Florida "Grapefruit League." (The Yankees and Astros were first and second.) The Nats are fifth among all MLB teams in terms of power rankings; see MLB. The Astros, Red Sox, Yankees, and Dodgers are the top teams, in that order. Teams will rest for two days and then play the first game of the season on Thursday afternoon. Baseball is almost here!!!!
For a couple days it seemed that maybe outfielder Michael A. Taylor's knee / hip injury might take a few weeks to heal, but he has made a lot of progress and will probably be with the team by the end of next week. Likewise, infielder Howie Kendrick's hamstring pull is thought to be relatively mild, and he should be ready to go during the early part of April.
After giving him one more chance (don't ask me why), the Nationals finally let their young relief pitcher Sammy Solis go. The Baltimore Orioles picked up former Nats second-string catcher Pedro Severino, who had likewise dismissed from the Nationals' roster earlier this spring.