Saturday, October 02, 2004

Final: SD State 10 UCLA 33

plays the San Diego State Aztecs today. SD State seems to be improving and will perhaps be a force in the Mountain West. They actually played Michigan pretty tough a few weeks back, although I think it is obvious by now that Michigan was overrated. Still, Michigan is Michigan, and the Aztecs played them tough in their house, which is not an easy thing to do. They have an imaginative coach and their QB Dlugolecki is no slouch. To further exacerbate the situation, The Bruins' defensive front line has suffered some injuries--against the run, it was already like a sieve to begin with--and the linebackers are not 100% either. The saving grace is that SD States offensive line and its star running back is injured so maybe its a wash.

Ultimately, it will be strength against strength. SD State defensive showed it could hold its own against Michigan, and Coach Dorrell's West Coast Offense seems to be functioning this year--although Craig Bragg is out with a separated shoulder. But more importantly is the running game. Mo Drew ran for 322 yards in his last game against Washington. In his first four carries he had over 100 yards and three touchdowns. And he's like an inch taller than me! This guy is incredible. I have a feeling that he'll do more of the same against the Aztecs.

Ichiro Suzuki

In another sports related matter--sorry you guys who don't follow sports--Ichiro Suzuki broke the single season mark for total hits. The old record held by George Sisler then of the St. Louis Browns (later to become the Orioles) stood for over 80 years. I first heard of him when I lived in Japan. He was the only player to have his first name sewn on his uniform. I am a bit of a traditionalist and baseball is a game of tradition, so I found this arrogant. When he came to the States, I was hoping the team over here would compel him to follow suit. But he still has his first name on his back. what would you think of a Red Sox player with "Pedro" on his back. A Cub with "Sammy", a Jint with "Barry", a former Yanker cum Astro with "Rocket"? Would most Americans would find this arrogant? I would. So how does Suzuki rate?

Well, regardless of my thoughts, I must acknowledge his ability. He has proven me wrong everytime. When he came to the US, I thought he was too small and would never succeed here except as a utility player. But he was rookie of the year and MVP in his first year. Subsequently, he has accumulated hit after hit each year but always seems to run out of gas in September--Japan plays a 130 game season, America 162 games. That's over one month's worth of baseball. So when he needed 40 some odd hits in September to break Sisler's record this year, I figured he wouldn't, he couldn't. Wrong again...

But I hope he appreciates his place in baseball history, for history is not just one man but the accumulation of many men. The record was Sisler's, but the breaking of records is a history unto itself. As such, I think he owes a debt of gratitude to his predecessors, such as Roger Maris. When Maris broke Babe Ruth's home run mark of 60 in 1961, baseball put an asterik next to his name because Ruth hit 60 in 154 games. Maris hit 61 in a 162 game season. The same situation holds true for Ichiro. Sisler did in 154; Suzuki in his 160th game. But because the asterik was finally taken off of Maris's record--after years of controversy--Suzuki's record will probably not have an asterik as well.

Suzuki also owes some gratitude to Hank Aaron as well. Back in 1974 when Aaron--an African American--was chasing Ruth's lifetime record of 714 home runs, he received a lot of hate mail, including a number of death threats because he was black. I have not heard anything this time, so I presume that Suzuki has not received anything significant for being a record breaking "Jap". This is attributable to an evolving society, one made better by men like Aaron whose situation brought to light the bigotry and hatred still simmering in the 70s, ultimately resulting in measures to address this ugly environment.

Of course, this has nothing to do with Suzuki. He is only the recipient of their legacy. But it would be nice if he showed his understanding of this and acknowledged it.

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