9/15/19 – Weekend in Review: Ichiro Rubs Onions Into Our Eyes, Postseason Pictures, Injuries, The Walk Off Nobody Saw, and a Big Ol’ WTF

You guys, this weekend has been so baseball packed that I don’t even know where to begin.

Happy Trails, Ichiro

Ichiro Suzuki was one of the top 5 greatest ballplayers of the last twenty years. Fight me.

It’s not just his playing ability that made him so great. It was his dedication, class, soft-spoken leadership, and heart combined with his badassery that put him squarely in the aforementioned top 5. When you think about what he accomplished here in the States alone, he’ll easily make it into the Hall of Fame in the first round, perhaps unanimously. He was Rookie of the Year, MVP in his very first season in the majors, a 10 time Gold Glove winner, a 10-time All Star, a 3-time Silver Slugger, and had over 3,000 hits. AND THAT WAS JUST IN THE US. Factor in all of his accolades and hits in Japan for nearly 10 seasons before he even got here, and then 19 seasons here and you have a guy that beat Pete Rose for the most professional career hits and was one of the longest lasting position players of all time. (Ok, 2018 and 2019 weren’t actual seasons, but he played in a few games each of those years, so they count).

So when the Mariners awarded him with the made up the first ever Franchise Achievement Award on Saturday, I had to watch his speech. In his first public appearance since he officially retired, Ichiro gave a speech – entirely in English – expressing his gratitude to the fans, the organization, and MLB. The man lived and breathed baseball for nearly 30 professional years, and it’s clear why he captured the hearts of Seattle and baseball fans everywhere. You can watch his speech here:

Postseason Picture Getting Clearer

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Which 2️⃣ teams will be left standing?

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I mentioned a few days ago that the Dodgers get to kick back and relax because they’ve clinched the NL West. Many of the post season races are all but decided, but so far, no other divisions have been claimed. The Braves, however, have clinched a postseason berth with their ridiculous 10-1 win over the Nationals on Saturday. Their magic number is down to just 4, so it’s just a matter of time before they lock up the top spot in the NL East.

It’s highly likely that we’ll see the AL East decided in the next couple of days, as the Yankees are about to lock it up. Houston won’t be far behind, and Minnesota all but claimed victory over the AL Central after sweeping a double header in Cleveland, taking two of three against the only other Central team left in contention this weekend. The NL Central is still up for grabs, though the Cardinals refuse to let the Cubs catch them.

The Wild Card races will be the most exciting to watch over the last weeks of the season. Oakland, Tampa Bay, and Cleveland may be fighting down to the bitter end for the AL, while the National League has 4, maybe 5, teams that could feasibly still be in it. As it stands, the Nationals and Cubs are neck and neck, separated by just 1.5 games. Milwaukee is just a game behind the Cubs, and the Mets still think they can overcome the 3 game deficit to get that 2nd spot. In the longest of long shots, the Phillies are behind by 3.5 games. Milwaukee has had so many injuries, including losing their MVP Christian Yelich, that it’s a miracle they’re still in the thick of things – and they’re still winning despite all of the setbacks.

I’m sort of also rooting for the Mets to make it just for how tenacious they’ve been all season, what with their trade deadline dramatics and Pete Alonzo slugging like there’s no tomorrow. Their biggest hurdle is a series against the fire-hot Braves to close the season, but Atlanta might be starting their Z list while they rest their big guns for the postseason. The NL Wild Card race is going to come down to the wire and I. am. here. for. it.

Ouch Ouch Ouch Ouch Ouch

The end of the season is always hard on teams, as guys have been playing through nagging injuries and general exhaustion. But this weekend’s injury report is particularly painful to look at.

There was a really scary moment during Saturday’s Braves/Nationals game, as the Braves’ Charlie Culberson took a 90.9 mph Fernando Rodney fastball to the face. Culberson was attempting to bunt, and the high fastball hit him square in the right cheek/nose. He suffered multiple facial fractures and had to be carted off the field and to a nearby hospital for evaluation. As he was being taken off the field, Culberson gave a thumbs up in Rodney’s general direction letting him know he knew it wasn’t on purpose.

Adding insult to injury, the hit to the face didn’t result in an automatic trip to first base, as any other hit-by-pitch situation would call for. Rather, the offending pitch was called a strike. I’m not completely sure if it’s because home plate ump Tim Timmons thought Culberson bunted the ball into his own face, or because of the bunting rules saying it was a strike because he didn’t pull back. No matter the reason, Braves manager Brian Snitker wasn’t having it, because he just watched his guy bleed all over the batters box and they didn’t get a base out of it. Snitker was tossed from the game during one of his most heated arguments ever.

Culberson was released from the hospital and was able to rejoin his team at their hotel the same evening, and will travel back to Atlanta with the club. The extent of his injuries will be evaluated once they’re back.

Another injury update includes Mike Trout’s season ending early so he can have surgery to fix the Morton’s neuroma he’s been dealing with for the last few weeks. Trout hasn’t been in the lineup since September 6th due to the pain in his foot, and it wasn’t going away anytime soon.

Seeing as the Angels have been eliminated from the postseason, it won’t affect the outcome of the season to lose their most valuable player. It may, however, affect whether he earns his 3rd AL MVP award. The early end of the season also curbs any hopes Trout had to reach 50 home runs, or even tie the Angels record of 47 (hit by Troy Glaus in 2000). He ends his season with a career-high 45 home runs, batting .291, with a majors-leading .438 OBP, and an AL-leading OPS of 1.083. His 8.3 WAR also leads the American League.

What a Walk Off!

I know you didn’t watch this game, because it was the Tigers and Orioles and they’re both so terrible that even their moms probably aren’t watching anymore. But the two teams played a their hearts out on Saturday, taking a tie game into the 12th.

The game was relatively slow, with a bit of back and forth, and was knotted up at 4-4 in the 12th. Enter John Hicks in the bottom of the inning with bases loaded. With one out on a 2-2 pitch, he slammed it into the seats and all 132 people in attendance went nuts.

The grand slam/Tigers win on Saturday was just their 44th of the season, but it ensured they’d beat their 2003 squad, that only won an abysmal 43 games. Congratulations?

Seriously, WTF?

Mike Fiers was dared by his teammates to shave his beard into a ‘G’ shape. And. He. Did. It. Fiers made it 2/3 of the way into the 2nd inning when he got hurt and had to leave the game. I’m not saying that the beard cursed him, but the beard was shaved promptly after that, with Fiers quoted as saying “I got hurt. I can’t continue that. Just had to shave that off.”

I don’t even have words to articulate what I’m feeling about this new beard the A’s pitcher debuted over the weekend. I’ll just let Twitter do it for me.

My Giant Fail

Remember the other day when I told my Twin Cities/MN readers to go meet Cal Ripken Jr.? Remember how I said I was going to be there, covering the event and hopefully getting an interview with the legendary Iron Man? For those that didn’t see what happened over the weekend, I invite you to check out the Facebook live vids for the breakdown of what I did.

What say you, readers? Leave a comment below.