Ichiro has recently been quoting up a storm, what with his bashing of Cleveland and talking about how he wants to become a pitcher at age 40. Since tracking down the best quotes of Gary Sheffield worked fairly well, we thought we'd give it another try - this time with Ichiro (who is admittedly one of our all time favorite players). He's full of bizarre contradictions but also a strange otherworldly intelligence. And sometimes he's just insanely weird. He also likes Sandra Bullock and he doesn't care much for Korea.
So strap yourself in folks, you're about to go on a mystical journey through time and space.
THE BEST OF ICHIRO
On his impressions of Korea: "It smells like garlic."
On his physical appearance: "I'm told I either look bigger than I do on television or that I look smaller than I look on television. No one seems to think I look the same size."
When asked what he would do if third base and first base were switched, meaning he'd no longer have the advantage of getting out of the box quickly as a left-handed hitter: "I'd retire."
On winning over everything else: "I want to be the kind of player who people feel it is worth paying the money to come out and watch. ... When I meet players who are playing just to win, that angers me."
On hotdog style players: "It's a weakness to try to show yourself to be more than you actually are. To me, it's cooler to hide yourself, even if you're better than that. That's a big difference between Japanese and American cultures. Sometimes, (Americans) try to make themselves out to be bigger than they are."
On speeding up the game: "Yesterday when I played, inside my head I said 'I want to go home quickly,' and I swung and I was able to get a hit because I wanted to go home. Today I thought, 'I want to hurry up and get something to eat,' and I swung and got a hit today."
In response to what he listens for when he taps a new bat and puts it to his ear: "The sounds."
On crushing hated opponents during the World Baseball Classic: "I will make them [Taiwan and Korea] see that they won't beat Japan for the next 30 years."
On Pete Rose: "No one can deny his 4,000-plus hits. The gambling thing is something different. ... On the front of his Hall of Fame plaque they should put all of his records and amazing feats. When you flip it over, it should say, 'He gambled on baseball.' But I would vote for him."
On what scoring runs early does to opponents: "To be able to get three [first-inning] runs like that I'm sure allowed us to give our opponents major mental damage."
On performance enhancing drugs: “When you take steroids, it’s not as if wings grow out of your back, and you start flying all over the place and stealing home runs (from hitters)."
On the key to hitting in the clutch: "I didn't know I hit that way (.625 with runners in scoring position). Maybe not knowing is my secret. If I chased numbers, maybe I wouldn't have as good results."
On his legendary mental discipline: "Actually, I don't know if I'm that disciplined. I only do what my body asks me to — not what my head tells me to do. If I start doing things I don't like, baseball won't be fun anymore."
Commenting on the uncertainty of breaking George Sisler's single season hits record: "When I came here to play, I didn't know where I would be or where I wouldn't be."
On words he dislikes: "Personally, I don't like the term 'success.' It's too arbitrary and too relative a thing. It's usually someone else's definition, not yours."
On Joe Torre game planning for him: "If that is true (Joe Torre's comment, 'Do not let Ichiro beat you. He is the key to Seattle's offense.') it would give me great joy. But I don't believe it."
Explaining why he missed catching a fly ball: "The ball became the same color as the sky. So, I wasn't able to see it ... I was sending mental signals for the ball not to come my way, because during that time of day it's impossible for me to see the ball so I lacked mental signals. I lacked in that area. Usually, I don't send mental signals. So, because this is the first time, I thought, please don't come my way."
On how to break out of a slump: "If I'm in a slump, I ask myself for advice."
On his personal battles with Dice-K: "I hope he arouses the fire that's dormant in the innermost recesses of my soul. I plan to face him with the zeal of a challenger."
On his personal toughness: "I'll walk on my hands before I use crutches."
On getting booed: "I actually welcome boos as part of the game. I really love to see that from my opponent's fans. Last night I think that those fans didn't boo hard enough."
On playing in Cleveland: "To tell the truth, I'm not excited to go to Cleveland, but we have to. If I ever saw myself saying I'm excited going to Cleveland, I'd punch myself in the face, because I'm lying."
On trying to get baseball back into the Olympics: "I would like to see the success of this event (World Baseball Classic) lead to baseball being back in the Olympics, but I can't see myself participating in any effort to bring baseball back to the Olympics."
On how he wants to become a pitcher at age 40: "Once I turn 40 I can become a pitcher. I'm kind of serious about it. But I'll have to learn to throw a knuckleball. Right now, I could be a 'normal' pitcher," who can top out at 95 mph with a fastball."
On great athletes: "Tiger is a great golfer, but ... when you say athlete, I think of Carl Lewis. When you talk about (golfers or race-car drivers), I don't want to see them run. It's the same if you were to meet a beautiful girl and go bowling. If she's an ugly bowler, you are going to be disappointed."
His favorite movies: I like "Miss Congeniality." I like Sandra Bullock. And "A Beautiful Mind." I also like "Face Off."
On coming over to the majors from Japan: "I have no idea what it's going to be like. I can only imagine what it will be like. So i'll just have to experience it."
You may also be fascinated to know that Ichiro's parents have a personal 4-story museum documenting Ichiro's entire life. It contains over 2000 items of Ichiro's, including youth baseball league scorecards and a mannequin of a 12-year old Ichiro working with an abacus. Admission is $8.50.