3. A Walk-Off Against the Greatest Closer of All-Time
Even though the 2009 season ended in disappointment for the Mariners, we’ll always have the night in September when Ichiro belted a home run off of the one who would become the all-time saves leader, Mariano Rivera.
Hitting a walk-off home run against the greatest closer of all time is a great accomplishment, but it was also a crucial hit at a time in the season when the Mariners were fighting to get ahead in the playoff race. Seattle was in precious few playoff fights during Ichiro’s career here (which has caused some criticism of the Seattle hit-king).
Another great thing about this moment is Ichiro’s celebration. Perhaps encouraged by clubhouse goofball and fan favorite Mike Sweeney, Ich performs a playful ‘suck it’ (he probably didn’t know what it meant, or maybe he did) as he crosses home plate. It’s the happiest I’ve ever seen Ichiro in Seattle. The man was known for keeping his emotions in check and being a generally calm guy. But after he won the game on a blast off of Rivera the Great, he looked like a little kid.
Beating the Yankees? Always nice. Beating the Yankees at home on a walk off against Rivera? Priceless. Seeing Ichiro make a ‘suck it’ sign? Depends on how offended you get.