April 25, 2005


For Suzuki, Hits Keep On Coming (BOB SHERWIN, April 26, 2005, NY Times)

Ichiro Suzuki, whose adjustments as a hitter can be as minute as subtle pressure from one finger on his bat, caused a stir among Japanese reporters before spring training when he revealed, "I have nothing to find."

The cryptic message was Suzuki's way of disclosing that he had successfully changed his batting stance in the middle of last season - a change that was nearly imperceptible but nevertheless instrumental in breaking the 84-year-old single-season hit record and reaching 262.

"I was thinking a lot about hitting and trying many, many things," said Suzuki, the Seattle Mariners right fielder. "For years, I don't think I was able to get it. It just didn't come to me."

But June 24 was the night of his breakthrough, he said. During batting practice, he experimented by moving his right foot - the front foot in his batting stance - a couple of inches away from the plate, opening his stance and spreading his legs four more inches apart. He said those minor changes allowed him to lower his bat angle slightly.

"It was nothing that I wasn't aware of," Suzuki said through the interpreter Allen Turner. "It just feels like baseball when I was really young, that type of feeling came back to me."

The difference was instantaneous, Suzuki said.

"When I took a practice swing, I already felt comfortable," he said. "Then when I hit a couple balls, I felt the same way. It was really comfortable."

Suzuki went on to collect 51 hits in July, 56 in August and 50 combined in September and October. He won his second American League batting title with a .372 average, hitting .429 after the All-Star Game break.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 25, 2005 11:34 PM

That type of awareness is inspiring, especially since it can be taught, at least to some.
This also illustrates why I'm against steroid use in sports. Not because steroids are an unfair advantage against other players, for after all, we cannot (yet) control our genetic makeup, and some people will always be freakishly well suited for particular sports or activities, gaining an unearned advantage simply by existing.
It's because steroids violate the spirit or philosophy of sport, which is that hard work plus extensive practice yield results.
There is an extra dimension to hearing an expert musician play, the culmination of talent plus endless hours of practice plus (hopefully) vision or creativity, even though a computer playing a synthesizer would sound as sweet.
Steroids are canned music.

Posted by: Rip Van Winkle at April 25, 2005 11:49 PM


Posted by: ghostcat at April 26, 2005 12:03 AM

Rip--along those lines, I find it wonderfully appropriate that Ichiro is on the same team as Jaime Moyer. He pitches in much the way Ichiro bats.

Sunday, I got to see both of them do it masterfully. It was amazing, watching Moyer repeatedly strike guys out on the same 75 mph change up. Meanwhile, watching Ichiro knock them into both sides of the field with what looked like no effort. What a glorious day. The M's may play .500 ball all season, but those two will always be something special to watch.

Who was it that said Ichi can hit .400 if he bats .350 in April? He's .355 as of today...

Posted by: Timothy at April 26, 2005 2:02 AM

The Zen of baseball.

Posted by: jd watson at April 26, 2005 5:04 AM

Timothy: Did you have to put it so eloquently? Now I'm going to have to get tickets and make the 4.5 hour trek. (I was just in denial before thinking I could get by watching it on the tube).

Posted by: John Resnick at April 26, 2005 11:22 AM

Mwahaha! I'll drive the Mariners' sinking attendance up single handedly! (Even if I can't afford anything better than a few cheap seats.)

My suggestion--come up next Tuesday early enough to snag one of the "Edgar Martinez Hits the Double" statues they're giving out. That's what I'm doing--though I don't know when Moyer's next home game is.

Posted by: Timothy at April 26, 2005 3:00 PM