Did he have to join the New York Yankees?
When Ichiro was traded, I was hardly surprised. The Mariners were not in a position to offer their longtime outfielder a legacy contract, particularly with his age and decline in productivity.
Therefore, a trade in the final year of his contract made a certain amount of sense for both Ichiro and the Mariners.
I think it is fair to say that Ichiro was a very popular star in Seattle, but he never had the charismatic personality of Ken Griffey, Jr. Therefore, when he was traded, there were mixed feelings about his departure.
Since Ichiro requested the trade, I am sure that some fans had even more mixed feelings. I do not blame Ichiro for wanting to move on, as I imagine he was sick of losing. He had to know that the team was not necessarily going to bring him back.
His departure did avoid a potentially awkward situation in the offseason: As the regular season wound down, Ichiro and the club would have been peppered with inquiries about a contract extension if he had not been traded to New York.
Again, did it have to be the Yankees? The Bronx Bombers? The Evil Empire?
The New York Yankees are arguably the most popular and most hated team in all of Major League Baseball. New York and their $195 million payroll are the poster team for economic inequality in baseball.
There are plenty of longtime Mariner fans that cannot root for the Yankees. Is it possible to root for Ichiro but not the team?
Is it realistic to root for Ichiro to go 4-for-5 with two stolen bases and still hope for the Yankees to lose? Now we are into a fantasy baseball mindset. On the one hand, you want him to finally get a ring, but many Mariners fans would prefer he do it with another franchise.
Here is hoping that Ichiro finds success, but perhaps he will find it next year with a more tolerable team.
Then again, he may re-sign with the Yankees and Mariners fans will continue to be faced with this quandary in the future.