Written by Jonathan Mathis

From the beautiful sceneries to wonderful sports figures, fans have had many reasons to be loyal to and embrace their players. Years ago, the Northwest saw the magical "Glove" of Gary Payton in the NBA, while mighty homers were being belted by Ken Griffey, Jr. inside a colossal Kingdome.

Years later, the Seattle Mariners started playing in their modern venue Safeco Field, and continued to employ unique players.

As you spend ample time wondering about the next name to be leaked from the list of 104 frauds, outfielder Ichiro Suzuki continues to dazzle, nearing a gratifying milestone that’s a rarity in a game where players have to make contact with a fast-moving object.

With an awkward form to swing at a fastball, his keen eyes and flawless timing makes it seem effortless for Ichiro to connect, which usually turns out to be a hit.

And when he takes first base, standing 90 feet away from second, his brilliant speed takes over.

Thus far, Ichiro is arguably one of the best international stars in the game. Most of the population in Seattle admires the Japanese-born star, seeing him amazingly climb fences to rob homers on sensational leaps that seem impossible for mere mortals.

But nothing seems impossible for Ichiro, a well-rounded outfielder who receives warm receptions when he steps into the batter’s box. Throughout Safeco Field, customary cheers of “Ichiro!”, “Ichiro!”, “Ichiro!” echo loudly enough to cause significant headaches.

It’s worth screaming loud for a prolific hitter and speedy leadoff man nearing 2,000 hits, which defines wonderful achievements.

He’s on the verge of amassing 200 hits this season, and close to reaching the mark in nine consecutive seasons. He’s a one-of-a-kind, capable of eclipsing landmarks that others never reach at his age.

Doing so, he’ll remain just one shy of tying Pete Rose for the long-time record of consecutive 200-hit seasons. He’s an innocent outfielder that you can’t dislike, or neglect in praising the avalanche of hits.

It's even harder to dislike Ichiro for having so much pride in his Japanese heritage and the game. No other star player has led the majors in hits since Ichiro debuted with the Mariners in 2001, luring in a large population of Asian culture, embracing Ichiro with pride.

He responds to the pampering by waving his country’s flag.

Being adored by fans isn’t difficult to understand, when he is only 12 hits away from the 2,000 hit plateau. He's already become the first Japanese position player, batting champion and Most Valuable Player in the majors.

That’s a proud accomplishment for Japan, when one of their players enters the majors here in America to symbolize grace.

In a year that has been highlighted by poison syringes, Ichiro tries to make us believe that not everyone in this game is an asterisk, giving a true sense of honor to baseball. Assuming he’s a purist and a natural born hitter, he’s an example that it doesn’t take steroids to reach a pinnacle, but that it takes diligence and trust within the game.

At 35, Ichiro has attained more than the average U.S. major leaguer. Owning the season-single hits record with 262, and with over 3,000 hits between Japan and the U.S., engaging major league plaudits is the least thing he’s worried about. More than anything, setting milestones is reaching standards, especially if he’s not dirty.

Please let’s hope he’s clean and true to the game or else his prosperous years in the majors will be erased.

But let’s not think that way, and cherish a valuable moment we haven’t been able to trace in a sport that’s contaminated with illicit substances. From our understanding, Ichiro belongs on the same list as teammate Griffey.

This makes us believe there’s still hope left in baseball. And with Ichiro having an impact on this fraudulent era, it makes an enormous difference, clearing us from the overexposed performance-enhancing drug revelations.

In a town that remains distraught over the departure of their pro basketball team to Oklahoma City, we are fortunate to have an international star as singular as Ichiro.

Once again, Seattle experiences a rare breed of talent.


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