Ichee-ro !

Constantly bombarded with coverage of Seattle sports up here in Alaska, one can’t help but follow the Mariners every summer. We get all their games on TV and radio. The Mariners have a nice organization, stadium and fan base. They have a “good brand” here in the northwest, although the results on the field the past coupla years were dismal. Seattle’s “team for the ages” back in 2001 that won 116 games but fell short in the playoffs vs the Yankmees got old very quickly. Ironically, 2001 was the “rookie season” for their 27 year old Japanese sensation, Ichiro Suzuki. Now 33, “Ichee” is enjoying another great season, batting .362 with an OBP of .416 and 22 SBs.

When you take a step back and look at Ichee’s first 6 1/2 years in MLB, it’s pretty damn amazing … certainly on a Hall of Fame pace if he can stay healthy and play another 6-7 years. So in a fairly brief span, he’s amassed a .333 career BA, 1,466 hits, 257 stolen bases, soon to be 7 All-Star appearances and … oh yeah … he’s an awesome outfielder with a bazooka arm and a few gold gloves. What team wouldn’t want a lead-off hitter like this??? He’s averaging over 225 hits and 111 runs scored per season!!! By comparison, here’s what other legendary players averaged: Pete Rose .303 BA, ~178 hits and ~90 runs scored per season. Ty Cobb .367 BA, ~183 hits and ~98 RS per season. Tony Gwynn .338 BA, ~165 hits and ~73 RS per season. Ricky Henderson .279 BA, ~128 hits and ~96 RS per season. (Stats were unprofessionally adjusted for partial seasons). But what a “BASEBALL PLAYER” this guy is!!! The name of the game is to get on base and produce runs; and of course defense counts as well. Who is more valuable than Ichee?!?!?

Granted, Suzuki’s stats probably reflect a 7 year period during the prime of his career. Undoubtedly, his legs and hand speed will slow down as he approaches his mid-late 30’s, although you wouldn’t know it by the season he’s enjoying now. This guy keeps himself in great shape, so I can see him being very effective into his early 40’s. Anyway, keep an eye on him … he should be passing the 3,000 hit mark in 2014. I know the Mariners are a mystery to everyone west of Denver, so I see it as my responsibility to enlighten BoSox Nation and others tucked away on the right coast. By the way, haven’t the Saux dropped their last two in Seattle? This was an Ichee I had to scratchee 🙂

Wally

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Where do the Spurs rank?

Let’s assume the Spurs close out the Cadavers before the weekend is over to claim their 4th NBA title in 8 years. Dynasty? Absolutely. One of the all-time teams? You betcha. Now let’s get specific. Assuming they win one more game in the next week or so, where does this Spurs team rank among the all-time great NBA teams??? Here’s Wally’s stab at the ranking:

1) Auerbach’s Celtics with Russell, Cousy, et al.
2) Chicago Bulls (6 titles in 8 years)
3) Magic’s Lakers of the 80’s (5 titles)
4) SPURS (’99-’07)
5) Bird’s Celtics of the 80’s
6) Minneapolis Lakers (5 in 6 years) with George Mikan
7) Shaq/Kobe Lakers (3-peat)
8) Chamberlain/West/Baylor Lakers (set records for Finals losses)
9) Bad Boy Pistons with Laimbeer, Thomas, Dumars, et al.
10) Rockets repeat with Hakeem Olajuwan

Up front apologies if I’ve missed a fine Rochester Royals or Syracuse Nationals run, but this is what immediately came to my mind. To refresh your memory, go to: http://www.nba.com/history/finals/champions.html.

San Antonio could very well pressure Magic’s Lakers for the #3 spot over the next couple of years if they manage to win one or two more. Duncan is a sure-fire Hall of Famer and Parker and Ginobili will probably get strong consideration before their careers are over. Naysayers are belittling their performance because the Cadavers haven’t mounted much of a fight, but don’t forget what an achievement it was for the Spurs to win the West when everyone expected Phoenix or Dallas to run away with it. This team plays great TEAM ball and often the heroics from game to game come from the likes of Bowen, Horry, Berry, Oberto, and Finlay. This is one of the best defensive teams ever!!! Bill Russell would be proud.

Let us know if you beg to differ on the Spurs or Wally’s overall rankings of the all-time NBA teams.

Wally