[FOUNTAIN]Ichiro’s humiliation“The seventy-seven kilogram, 175 centimeter tall small giant from Asia.” This is Suzuki Ichiro, the symbol of Japanese baseball and the star of Japan’s baseball team. His batting average has been 0.332 since he advanced to the U.S. Major Leagues in 2001. In 2004, he set a new record of 262 hits in one major league season.
This broke a record which had stood for 84 years since 1920. He is rewriting baseball history and is the pride of the Japanese, who call Ichiro a “Baseball God.” He is also known as a “baseball machine driven by high-tech machinery.” The secret to his success is sharp self-management. Ichiro, who started baseball on his father’s suggestion, practiced two to three times more than others. Ichiro said, “I have never broken a promise with myself in my life.” He also said, “Losing to someone else is something I dread more than dying.” He tries so much to protect his pride. In the batter’s box, he used to be compared with Japanese samurai because he practiced his batting form with the shrewdness of a samurai drawing his sword. He is normally very reticent and discreet.
For this reason, his every word is the subject of interest. When he was accepted to the Major Leagues he said, “There is no limit for me. That is a word for weak people,” showing his resolve. Just as he said he would, he accomplished a monumental achievement in only four years. Ichiro came to be called “the artist who made the baseball field his canvas.” He analyzed his great achievements by saying, “I like stepping into the batter’s box and waiting for that moment. There isn’t any pressure. This is my entire life.” Some Japanese publishers even inserted an article titled “Ichiro’s Endless Dreams” in an elementary school textbook.
Mr. Ichiro mad some provocative remarks in his games with Korea. In 1997, when the Korea-Japan Super Game was held, he said, “I feel dizzy with all the garlic odor from the ball. It is even hard to hit the ball.” Before the World Baseball Classic started, Ichiro said, “I want to beat South Korea so badly that the South Koreans won’t want to play Japan for another 30 years.” After he lost against Korea on Thursday he could not hide his rage saying, “It is the most humiliating day in my entire baseball life.” A picture of “samurai Ichiro” cursing and kicking the fence was reported hugely in the media. Koreans take great pleasure in seeing this powerful person on the fritz. On the Internet, a composite photograph of Ichiro being kicked in the butt by Park Chan-ho is very popular. It is a scene that depicts the meaning of the word “humiliation” accurately.
by Park Jai-hyun
The writer is a deputy city news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.