Written by Greg Cote at the Miami Herald.com
Pete Rose has cast himself once again in a familiar role: As cantankerous and bitter, playing Angry Old Man in begrudging the Marlins’ Ichiro Suzuki his milestone accomplishment. I sort of get it. Rose, 75, is only protecting what’s his and what’s left — the one major plank of his legacy that is untarnished and undisputed. He is the Hit King. Nobody in the history of Major League Baseball has topped his 4,256 hits, and it is a record that appears unassailable. When the game you love has ostracized you with a life sentence for gambling, when you are resigned to never being voted into the Hall of Fame that otherwise would have welcomed you as royalty, you hang onto what you can.
“The next thing you know,” groused Rose in an interview about Ichiro this week, “they’ll be counting his high school hits.”
You know how athletes annoyingly like to say of an accomplishment, “Nobody can take that away from me” … even though nobody is trying to? That is sort of what’s happening here.
Ichiro is not on the cusp of breaking Rose’s record and nobody is claiming that. But he isabout to surpass Rose’s career total if you include Ichiro’s hits collected in Japan before he came to America in 2001, and that’s a notable achievement on its own. There is no arguing Rose remains the Hit King because MLB is king of that sport. But what Ichiro is accomplishing is understandably being celebrated in Japan and should not be ignored stateside, either. The Marlins undoubtedly will honor Ichiro’s career achievement during the homestand that begins Friday against Colorado, and should.
After Wednsday’s first-inning single and ninth-inning double, Ichiro had 2,979 MLB hits in a career still flourishing in Miami at age 42. He had 1,278 in Japan. That combined total of 4,257 leaves him one ahead of Rose’s total. Not his record, but his total.
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