Buhner’s comment made me want to upchuck, quite honestly, because it reflected a rising sentiment among fans in what remains a nascent baseball town. That in turn prompted me, and others like me, to confront an uneasy topic: That some Americans still see the Japanese in an unflattering light because of a war fought more than 60 years ago (a war, by the way, also fought against Germans and Italians, neither of whom conjure even a micron of the bile aimed at Japanese).
Throughout Ichiro’s Mariner career, which ended Monday with his trade to the Yankees, there have been whispers that he was selfish, not a good teammate and in some ways unworthy of his star status. That he didn’t steal enough bases, take enough outs to advance enough base runners, or try hard enough to hit with more power. That he was too wedded to batting leadoff. And that he was too aloof and never stepped from behind the language barrier to reach out enough to the Seattle community, much less his teammates. Fans and media members alike complained that they did not “know” Ichiro.