Thankfully, Ichiro won't have to deal with asterisk stigma
Posted: Thursday September 16, 2004 5:08PM; Updated: Thursday September 16, 2004 5:08PM
Unlike Roger Maris, Ichiro won't be brushed back by an asterisk as he chases a hallowed record.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Say what you want about Bud Selig, but he's no Ford Frick.
Frick was baseball's commissioner in 1961 when Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's record of 60 homers in a season. Because Ruth's record was set in 154 games and Maris was playing a 162-game schedule, Frick said, any new record should come with an asterisk.
The asterisk part never actually happened, but Maris' 61 homers were listed as a double entry alongside Ruth's 60 for some 30 years. Maris' was the 162-game record, Ruth's the 154-game mark.
There will, however, be no such nonsense if Ichiro Suzuki breaks Hall of Famer George Sisler's single-season hits record, and we can thank Selig.
"I don't believe in that," Selig said. "Ichiro was given a season to set a record and if he gets it, I will honor it with all the respect it deserves. This is an amazing accomplishment that Ichiro is pursuing. There will be no asterisk, I can assure you of that."
Sisler banged out 257 hits over 154 games in 1920; with 233 in 144 games, Suzuki is on pace to finish with 260 in 162 (for what it's worth, he's also challenging Willie Wilson's 24-year-old record for most at-bats in a season, 705).
At any rate, Ichiro is taking the whole thing in stride. While Maris and Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds sometimes found their patience challenged by news coverage during their home run chases, Suzuki appears to be mostly amused.
"You want to know the color of my underwear, too?" Ichiro asked reporters last week. "You guys are starting to ask questions like the Japanese writers used to."
But at least we won't be asking about that asterisk.
MLB Power Rankings
St. Louis Cardinals Being on top is more stressful than you might think. "Imagine if this lead gets away from us," said Tony La Russa. "I would never show my face in this town again. That's the fear that drives you." That, and losing those really good deals on Budweiser.
New York Yankees How about them seeking a forfeit because Hurricane Frances made the Devil Rays late for last week's doubleheader -- then sending MLB a $3 million bill to cover the cost of keeping Yankee Stadium open all day? When did they rehire Costanza?
Boston Red Sox They've sold out their entire schedule, only the fourth team in major league history to accomplish the feat. Let's see, 81 home games times 34,000, carry the three ... man, that's a lot of heartache.
Minnesota Twins Brad Radke probably deserves a better fate than his 11-7 record. His 3.43 ERA is tied for fifth in the AL, but the Twins have scored just one run in eight of his 13 no-decisions. "That's pretty sad," said Ron Gardenhire. But you still have to be in the team picture, Brad.
Atlanta Braves Julio Franco, hitting .302 with six homers and 51 RBIs, recently turned 46. "What do you think?" he asked reporters. "You think I've got another year left in me?" In the majors? Or on the planet?
Los Angeles Dodgers Charles Johnson vetoed a deadline deal to L.A., and now he's the Rockies' third-string catcher. Dodgers catchers Brent Mayne and David Ross, meanwhile, are hitting a combined .177. Ah, the classic non-trade that didn't help anyone.
Oakland Athletics They finished 1-8 against the Red Sox this season, including a game last week in which Tim Hudson was cuffed around for seven runs in three innings. Hudson shrugged it off: "I'm setting them up for the playoffs to make them think I'm terrible."
Anaheim Angels Mike Scioscia had an unpleasant flashback a couple of days ago after Jose Molina took a foul tip to the groin and needed several minutes to recover. "You see that happen and as a former catcher I could feel the pain," Scioscia said. "I almost threw up in the dugout."
San Francisco Giants Mike Koplove, the 414th pitcher to surrender a home run to Barry Bonds, seems to be handling it OK. "I thought I threw the perfect pitch," Koplove said. "He was just standing a little too close to the Jumbotron when he hit it."
Chicago Cubs Their 15-24 record in one-run games isn't the sign of a serious playoff team. "You have to quit counting, man," said Dusty Baker. "I'm serious, you have to quit counting. We have to start at the next one. If we keep counting, it will keep compounding and growing, just like when you're in a slump." So quit counting.
Texas Rangers Look for good-hit, what-defense Alfonso Soriano to be moving on after the season. He's not happy in Texas, and the Rangers aren't happy with the second baseman's 23 errors. Talk is the Mets, feeling their Erratic Player Quotient is a little low, are interested.
Houston Astros Since coming over from the AL, free agent-to-be Carlos Beltran has 23 home runs, 50 RBIs, 22 stolen bases and 63 runs scored in 74 games. Which is one reason agent Scott Boras won't be following Jeff Moorad into the team-running business.
San Diego Padres Then there's pitcher Sterling Hitchcock, retiring with a 74-76 record and 4.80 ERA after 13 injury-filled seasons in the bigs. "I saw the handwriting on the wall," he said, "and it was graffiti."
Florida Marlins Sometimes you learn more than you want to know. Take Josh Beckett on missing his brother's wedding because of Hurricane Frances. "It's not his first marriage," he told the Palm Beach Post. "I went to the first one."
Philadelphia Phillies MLB.com is selling an official Philadelphia Phillies Welcome Mat made from artificial turf from old Veterans Stadium. It can be yours for a mere $99.99. Yes, that's welcome mat, not doormat.
Chicago White Sox Ozzie Guillen's feud with Buck Showalter is getting interesting. "He didn't even know how the clubhouse in the big leagues was when he got his first job," said Guillen, who played 16 seasons in the majors. "Mr. Baseball never even got a hit in Triple-A. ... Now all of a sudden he's the best ever in baseball." And don't even mention his National Guard record.
Cleveland Indians Their brief AL Central hopes were killed by a 4-16 stretch in which they were outscored 118-97 -- and that includes a 9-0 win over the White Sox and a 22-0 shellacking of the Yankees. "We've tailed off, obviously," manager Eric Wedge said. And the Titanic was a boating mishap.
Cincinnati Reds Aaron Harang allowed 11 home runs in his first 22 starts this season. Then he gave up 11 more ... in his next 13 1/3 innings. Of course, teammate Jose Acevedo was torched for four by the Astros in one inning recently. "You have to throw strikes," he said. Sure, but not when you're risking the health of fans in the bleachers.
Baltimore Orioles Bruce Chen is just 27 years old, but the lefty has already pitched for eight major league teams. Yes, that is Mike Morgan looking over his shoulder.
Pittsburgh Pirates Jason Bay's numbers are one reason to like his NL Rookie of the Year chances. Another is the Bucs' campaign on his behalf. Bay's pursuit of the award, says Pirates media relations director Jim Trdinich, is the most anticipated Bay Watch since "Pamela Anderson wore a red swimsuit."
Detroit Tigers Alex Sanchez, who has a home in Miami, said Hurricane Frances wasn't as bad as the storm he experienced in 1994 while fleeing on a raft from Cuba. "I tied myself," he said, "because if I go into the water, I'd have a chance to get back to the raft." Then, of course, he went back on the DL.
Colorado Rockies After Brian Fuentes broke Barry Bonds' elbow guard with a pitch last week, Bonds -- you're not going to believe this -- gave the reliever a long, hard stare. Fuentes shrugged it off. "He does that a lot," said Fuentes. "I'm not the one wearing armor."
Milwaukee Brewers They already need to replace the system that moves the roof at 4-year-old Miller Park, a process expected to cost $8 million. Stadium operators are suing the builder for $33 million in damages. Hey, after fixing the roof, that'd leave them enough to get Richie Sexson back.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays Their $29.56 million payroll is the second lowest in the majors. So it was a little hard keeping a straight face when Vince Naimoli, responding to the assumption that he delayed their trip to New York to keep travel costs down, declared, "I am not a cheapskate."
New York Mets Art Howe is gone -- or at least going -- and there's already talk they'll pursue Lou Piniella to succeed him. What would it take to pry Lou away from the Devil Rays? Well, they could always offer prized prospect Scott Kazmir -- oops, sorry, my bad.
Montreal Expos Baseball insists they'll be playing in a new city next season. Meanwhile, team officials have begun talks with Montreal officials on a 2005 rental agreement at Olympic Stadium. That's the signpost up ahead ...
Toronto Blue Jays They'll make an offer to Carlos Delgado, who's in the final season of a four-year, $68 million contract, but with a $50 million budget for 2005, the money is just not there. But, hey, at least Frank Catalanotto is locked up for the next two years.
Seattle Mariners They've added recently fired Astros manager Jimy Williams as a consultant to analyze their farm system. Somehow, you gotta think it really wasn't Bob Melvin's idea.
Kansas City Royals Their offense is redefining the word "schizophrenia." They scored a team-record 26 runs for a doubleheader -- but split with the Tigers after getting shut out in the second game. Then they thumped the Yankees 17-8 -- only to be held scoreless by the Bombers in the next two games.
Arizona Diamondbacks Al Pedrique was upset when several young players skipped an "optional" batting practice. "To me," he said, "when you just get called up and the optional hitting is on the board, you still have to show up." Pedrique may not manage like Casey Stengel, but he sure does talk like him.