Po' po' Ichiro... Deceived by the Mariners' early success in 2007, he signed a five-year extension, only to see them wobble in and out of mediocrity (or worse) year by year since. Picked by many pundits to win the AL West in 2010, the season has been a disaster. And yet Ichiro, perhaps the most disciplined player of all time, continues to hit, and will probably tie Pete Rose's record of most seasons with 200+ hits this year. But I do feel the Mariners dismal offensive showing is wearing on him—what’s the joy of getting on base when no one will drive you in? Ichiro can be proud of what he's done this year in the face of overwhelming disappointment, turbulence, the whimpering end to Ken Griffey Jr.'s career, and the occasionally embarrassing conduct of some Mariner teammates.
“Ichiro Goes To The Moon,” which will appear on the next Baseball Project album (February 2011 release, folks), is my tribute to both the self-assurance and the humor that makes Ichiro so damn cool. The guy can pretty much do whatever he wants. I feel like if he wanted to build a rocket ship in his basement, he could do it. I wouldn’t bet against him. The song is also a tribute to his prowess at eating. Despite his slim build, the guy can really put it away. I respect that. I super-respect that!
But my song is not the first Ichiro song. There may be hundreds in Japan, who knows? I know the tremendous Japanese garage-punk group Supersnazz recorded one called “Go Go Ichiro.” And when talking to Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard earlier this year (in mutual anticipation of a big M's year spearheaded by King Felix and Cliff Lee), we discovered we'd both penned tunes about the great one (apologies to Jackie Gleason). Ben's song is probably better than mine, though he disagrees. Anyway, maybe it's better that neither of us have released our songs yet, as this just doesn't seem to be the most glorious time for the big salute. Maybe next year, eh, Ben?
Giants and Mariners fan Scott McCaughey has been making music out of the Pacific Northwest for three decades with such bands as Young Fresh Fellows, The Minus 5, The Baseball Project and R.E.M. The latest group to join this list, Tired Pony, includes his pal Peter Buck and Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody. Their excellent debut album, The Place We Ran From, is due out September 28th.