Before his first at-bat as a Yankee, Ichiro acknowledges the ovation at Safeco Field Monday night. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest
The Mariners bid adieu to franchise legend Ichiro, dispatching him to the New York Yankees, and then feasted on an inept Kansas City pitching staff in a rare, four-game sweep; Eddie Johnson scored the game-winning goal in the MLS All-Star Game and added another as the Sounders extended their unbeaten streak to five, and the Seahawks opened their third training camp under Pete Carroll with everyone speculating on the identity of the starting quarterback. This Was The Week That Was:
JULY 23-29, 2012
- GOOD WEEK – Ichiro operated on fumes for the last year and a half, compared to the first 10 years of his career, but he received a chance to play for baseball’s best team, instead of one of its worst, with his trade to the New York Yankees. Ichiro wanted out of Seattle so badly that he agreed to hit at the bottom of the New York order and move to left field, more of a commentary on the Mariners than on Ichiro.
- BAD WEEK — After putting together an 0-for-19 streak, struggling first baseman Justin Smoak wore out his welcome with the Mariners, who dispatched him and his .189 batting average to the AAA Tacoma Rainiers. The centerpiece (for Seattle) of the 2010 Cliff Lee trade, Smoak hit only .156 at Safeco Field and had a .134 July batting average.
- PLAY OF THE WEEK — Tate Martell, a 14-year-old quarterback from San Diego, accepted a non-binding scholarship offer from Steve Sarkisian to play football for the University of Washington. Although he can’t sign a letter of intent until Feb. 1, 2017, giving him plenty of time to change his mind (or for the Huskies to change theirs), Martell says, “It’s cool. I’m totally excited about this.” Martell’s dad, Al Martell, inanely described his son as a “clone” of Fran Tarkenton and Brett Favre.
- STAT OF THE WEEK — When the Mariners eked out just three hits against the Yankees Wednesday, they fell to 14th in the American League in batting average (.229), 14th in on-base percentage (.291), 14th in slugging (.358) and 14th in on-base+slugging (.649).
- EX-SEATTLE JOCK OF THE WEEK — Ichiro, who made his last Seattle bow Wednesday, put up some amazing numbers during his 11 1/2 seasons with the Mariners. Without rehashing all the obvious ones, our three favorite snapshots of what made Ichiro so much fun to watch in his prime: July 28-Aug. 5, 2004 — Ichiro produced 25 hits in nine games against Oakland, Anaheim, Baltimore and Tampa Bay (no Mariner has more than 25 hits in a month this season); Sept. 21-22, 2004 — Ichiro had nine hits in two games at Anaheim; Sept. 21-23, 2004 — In three games vs. Anaheim and Texas, Ichiro went 11-for-15, batting .733.
- SUNDAY, July 29 — Bremerton’s Nathan Adrian collects a silver medal in the 4×100 freestyle relay, but would have won a gold if Ryan Lochte, with a body-length lead at the final turn, hadn’t been run down by France’s Yannick Agnel in the final 50 meters . . . The Mariners cough up a 5-2 lead behind Felix Hernandez, but hold on to defeat Kansas City 7-6, completing a four-game sweep, the first by Seattle at Safeco Field since 2001. Tom Wilhelmsen pitches a shaky ninth but records his 14th save . . . Seattle native Fred Couples wins the Senior British Open at Turnberry, Scotland, by two strokes over Gary Hallberg after holing a 25-foot putt. After finishing with a 9-under 271, Couples says, “I’ve never won an Open championship and this is the next-best thing. It’s my biggest senior tour win by far on a truly great golf course.” With the win, Couples qualifies for the 2013 British Open.
- SATURDAY, July 28 — Kevin Millwood finally collects a win, his first since May 23, when he pitches the Mariners past Kansas City 4-3 on a day when the Mariners make former franchise faves Randy Johnson and Dan Wilson the fifth and sixth members of their Hall of Fame . . . Michael Gspurning, MIA for three months with a hip injury, returns to the Sounders and helps lead them to a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Osvaldo Alonso and Eddie Johnson provide goals as the Sounders remain unbeaten in their past five.
- FRIDAY, July 27 — John Jaso knocks in four runs and Blake Beavan pitches into the seventh inning as the Mariners continue to dine at the pitching banquet provided by the Kansas City Royals. The Mariners bang out 11 more hits and win 6-1, Beavan’s third straight win after his recall from AAA Tacoma . . . The Sounders, who had dismissed reports of a potential Alvaro Fernandez trade as a rumor, naturally trade the midfielder to the Chicago Fire for allocation money. The move that opens up the roster to sign German midfielder Christian Tiffert, who becomes the sixth designated player in team history, following Freddie Ljungberg, Blaise Nkufo, Fredy Montero, Mauro Rosales and Fernandez.
- THURSDAY, July 26 – Jason Vargas pitches one-hit ball for eight innings and the Mariners continue their torture of the Kansas City Royals, recording 11 hits in a 4-1 victory at Safeco Field. The Mariners, 4-1 vs. Kansas City, with 35 runs in five games, get three hits out of Mike Carp, the eighth three-hit game of his career. Safeco fans wildly cheer Vargas, the subject of numerous trade rumors . . . Seahawks sign veteran receiver Antonio Bryant, who had 1,248 receiving yards for Tampa Bay in 2008, but hasn’t played since 2009 . . . RB Marshawn Lynch formally enters a plea of not guilty to his DUI charge.
- WEDNESDAY, July 25 — After scratching out three hits in a 5-2 loss to Ichiro and the Yankees, the Mariners reach the bottom in every important offensive category: 14th in batting average (.229), 14th in on-base percentage (.291) 14th in slugging (.358) and 14th in on-base+slugging (.649) . . . . Eddie Johnson of the Sounders scores the winning goal in the 91st minute to give the MLS All-Stars a 3-2 victory over Chelsea FC in Chester, PA. . . . Seahawks extend center Max Unger, the only offensive lineman to arrive before Pete Carroll became head coach in 2010, to a multi-year deal with no terms disclosed . . . Tate Martell, a 14-year-old soon-to-be eighth-grader from San Diego, verbally commits to play football at the University of Washington.
- TUESDAY, July 24 – Felix Hernandez works 7.0 effective innings, despite plunking three New York batters with pitches (broke A-Rod’s hand), and defeats the Yankees 4-2 for his fifth consecutive victory . . . Pac-12 football media pick USC to win the conference and predict the Huskies will finish third and the Cougars fifth the North Division. The picks (North): 1. Oregon (732), 2. Stanford (533), 3. Washington (502), 4. California (382), 5. Washington State (228), 6. Oregon State 205); (South): 1. USC (729), 2. Utah (514), 3. UCLA (435), 4. Arizona (385), 5. Arizona State (353), 6. Colorado (264).
- MONDAY, July 23 — The Mariners swap fading franchise icon Ichiro to the New York Yankees for a pair of prospects and half the pro-rated portion of his remaining salary, about $3.5 million. Before his first at-bat against Seattle, Ichiro bows deeply to the Safeco Field crowd twice, then laces a single to center off Kevin Millwood and swipes second base, to another ovation. The Mariners say Ichiro initiated trade talks around the All-Star break, feeling that it was in his best interest and in the interest of the perpetually rebuilding Mariners to play elsewhere, logic that could not be denied . . . Shortly after Ichiro goes 1-for-4 in New York’s win, the Mariners demote 1B Justin Smoak and his 0-for-19 slump and .189 batting average to AAA Tacoma. “You never want to get sent down, I mean, c’mon,” says Smoak . . . The Sounders dismiss “as rumors” reports that midfielder Alvaro Fernandez either be traded or go out on loan to Colombian club Deportivo Cali.
TOP 5 NUMBERS
2,533: Number of hits Ichiro accumulated in 11 1/2 seasons with Seattle, 286 more than No. 2 Edgar Martinez had (2,247) in 18 seasons.
782: Multi-hit games for Ichiro, the No. 1 total in the majors since he entered the league in 2001; had five hits in a game a Seattle record seven times.
2,428: Ichiro’s hit total through the first 11 seasons of his career, most by any player in his first 11 years and 174 more than No. 2 Paul Waner.
2,030: Ichiro’s hits 2001-09, which led the decade, even though he didn’t play the whole decade. Most in a decade: 2,085, Rogers Hornsby, 1920s.
7: Times that Ichiro led the majors in hits during his 11 Mariners seasons. Only others to lead majors in hits 7 times were Ty Cobb and Pete Rose.
Leo Lassen, "The Great Gabbo," broadcasted more than 5,000 Seattle Indians and Seattle Rainiers games in a career that spanned 1931-60 (See Wayback Machine below). / David Eskenazi Collection
READS OF THE WEEK
Big Unit, Wilson Enter Mariners Hall of Fame: The Seattle Mariners Saturday welcomed the fifth and sixth members to the franchises Hall of Fame, inducting star left hander Randy Johnson (1989-98) and his long-time battery mate Dan Wilson (1993-05). The pair were saluted in a ceremony at Safeco Field prior to the game against the Kansas City Royals . . . MORE
Thiel: Big Unit Eager For Hug From Mariners Fans: Legendary for a rib-rattling fastball as well as a slider called Mr. Snappy, Randy Johnson added something new to his Seattle repertoire Friday: The make-up pitch. Reflective, rambling and eager to amend his Seattle legacy, the Big Unit, on the eve of his Saturday induction into the Mariners Hall of Fame with longtime batterymate Dan Wilson, engaged in some emotional bleeding Friday before a handful of writers and TV cameras . . . MORE
Poll: Was This The Best Time, Best Deal For Ichiro?: The trade of Ichiro Monday came as a surprise to many, mostly because it was believed that there was no market for his declining, 38-year-old skills, and that he didnt want to leave a franchise where he could dictate terms and conditions . . . MORE
Wayback Machine: Leo Lassen, ‘The Voice’: Years ago, in May 1971 as near as we can figure, August Augie Navarro, the radio voice of the Pacific Coast Leagues Salt Lake City Angels and a former catcher for Ogden, Boise and Twin Falls in the old Pioneer League (1939-41), settled into a small studio off an alley in the Utah capital and prepared to broadcast almost live an Angels road game against the Eugene Emeralds . . . MORE
Thiel: Whew! Ichiro Saves Mariners Serious Ugly: Hard to say where it will end up in the litany of his baseball accomplishments, but Ichiro did the Mariners a big, fat, final, tuna-roll-flavored favor Monday: He asked out. He asked out, before the Mariners surely would have asked him back . . . MORE
Ichiro: Face Of The Franchise For 11 1/2 Years: Ichiro, swapped to the New York Yankees Monday in a stunning trade for two prospects and cash, had a bigger impact on the franchise than any Mariner except for Ken Griffey Jr. His Seattle career included 10 All-Star appearances, 10 Gold Gloves, two batting titles and a vast portfolio of statistical head scratchers. What follows is a look at Ichiros glory years with the franchise . . . MORE
Mariners Pull A Stunner: Trade Ichiro To Yankes: Making a move no one thought they would ever do (because of their Japanese ownership), or had the guts to do, the Mariners traded fading franchise icon Ichiro to the New York Yankees Monday in exchange for a pair of minor league prospects and cash. Ichiro, in the last year of a four-year contract that pays him $18 million this season, initiated trade talks, Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln said . . . MORE
That Was The Week That Was (July 15-21): The Mariners won not one, but two series, the Sounders said farewell to an original, Roger Levesque, and the Seahawks inherited a major distraction when star running back Marshawn Lynch stupidly failed to call a cab and got pulled over for DUI in Oakland. Lynch issued the predictable apology, but the only talk on the matter that counts will come from Commissioner Roger Goodell when he decides how much punishment Lynch and, by extension, the Seahawks, warrant . . . MORE
“I would like to express my gratitude to the fans. Thank you for the last 11 1/2 years. Starting in 2001, whether the team played well or bad, whether I played good or bad, I am overcome with emotion when I think about my times and feelings when that time was spent together with the fans. During all those times, the fans were a big foundation for me” – Ichiro, after his trade to the Yankees Monday
Im in complete disbelief. Generally youll have a idea about who will get traded before the trading deadline (July 31), but I never thought it would be the face of the franchise for the last 11 years. Now hell be here in pinstripes (the Yankees and Mariners opened a three-game series Monday at Safeco Field), and Im in complete disbelief” – Michael Saunders, Mariners outfielder, after the club traded Ichiro to the Yankees
Ichiro will be missed. He owns a long list of Major League Baseball and Mariners club records, has earned many prestigious awards, and in my opinion, he will someday be a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. I know that I speak for all of Ichiros fans, both here in the Pacific Northwest, around this country and also throughout Japan, in wishing him and his wife Yumiko the very best as he continues his baseball career with the Yankees” – Howard Lincoln, Mariners CEO, on Ichiro’s departure
“Everybody came up and talked to him. It’s tough to say goodbye to a legend like that, but we wish him the best of luck. I was able to say goodbye to him. I was hoping I’d get a chance to see him. I just thanked him for everything. He’s a true inspiration. No one’s done what he’s done. Hopefully, he keeps adding to those records. I want to see him win” – Mike Carp, Mariners, after Ichiro made his last appearance in the Mariners locker room
“I’m just riding the wave right now, because when I’m getting deflections, they’re going in” — Eddie Johnson, Sounders, after scoring the winning goal in the 91st minute of the MLS All-Star game against Chelsea
I hope that what I can do out on the field is worth them keeping me here. Obviously it means youre doing all right if theyre talking about other teams wanting you, but this is where I want to stay. This is a great city, I love the organization, I love my teammates, I love the staff I cant say any more than that. Its home to me” — Jason Vargas, Mariners starter, responding to trade rumors after defeating Kansas City 4-1 Thursday
“He’s executing pitches a lot better. When he’s missing, he’s missing in the right spots, and I think that goes a long way” — Eric Wedge, Mariners manager, after Blake Beavan won his third consecutive start Friday against Kansas City
“He’s a player that’s going to be able to help run our game. He’s a guy with a lot of experience, a guy who’s been captain of his team, so he’ll help us as well from a leadership standpoint in crucial moments” — Sigi Schmid, Sounders coach, after the acquisition of designated player and German midfielder Christian Tiffert