There Was No Joy In The Emerald City
Modern sports are not fairy tales.
But if they were, they would be corporate fairytales where the bigger fish always eats the little ones, and the Goliaths trample all the would be Davids without batting an eye.
A potential baseball fairytale was erased from the books today, after being told as a bed time story for over a decade.
Ichiro has been traded to the Yankees.
Player trades, journeymen and the swapping of allegiances should be well engraved into the modern sports fan’s psyche. Yet there are still days like today when news of a player defecting to an evil empire of a franchise still comes like a Louisville Slugger to the gut.
Sometimes you are the ball indeed.
We’ve been hardened for sure. LeBron James once had a chance to win a championship in his hometown. That story felt good until it came to an awkward halt in a nationally televised way. Albert Pujols once felt like a modern day tale of redemption. A true throwback to a simpler time, with an even simpler swing. Winning multiple World Series titles with a single team. But even that potential tale was soured when Pujols decided to take a bizarre swan song playing baseball in Disneyland.
And so today, with Ichiro playing IN Seattle but now FOR New York, another fibre of our romantic baseball psyche has been snapped. No player ever has a chance to be THE STORY in New York. It’s the place ball players go to be absorbed into a kind of living dead, pre-afterworld. It’s somewhere along the journey from anonymous sandlot to some corn stalk lined heavenly diamond in Iowa.
New York is where players go to retire before they retire. To cross off the achievement of winning a championship in a very technical way. Devoid of emotion. Devoid of struggle. Devoid of story.
New York wins championships like clockwork. That’s just what Yankees are bred to do. Ichiro, before this jump, had a way of lassoing the center of the very fickle baseball universe and bringing it to Seattle. He prolonged the baseball story in Seattle after Ken Griffey Jr, Edgar and the Unit dramatically brought it roaring back to life in 1995. Ironically that instance was against a previous incarnation of the Yankees.
It just doesn’t sit right with me. It feels off beat and random for Ichiro to be a Yankee. It lacks a certain symmetry or charm. It feels counter to baseball logic. It probably makes great business sense to Ichiro and it certainly fits the talent hoarding sensibilities of the Yanks. But it just feels off.
I feel shorted as a baseball fan today. The game was better when Ichiro was ominously roaming the right field region at Safeco Field. It was a welcome dose of predictability in an unpredictable game.
Now, baseball romantics will have to look elsewhere to fill that void. Thankfully Seattle still has King Felix performing regal feats on their mound. But alas, Ichiro, like Pujols not long before this, has ceased to play in the present tense. Opting instead to make his bed in the intermediary retirement home called Yankee Stadium.
Somewhere bloggers ramble, and somewhere purists shout,
For there was no joy in the Emerald City today,
For clever Ichiro has opted out.