2. Terrence Long Nailed at Third on a Laser Throw by Ichiro
Wasn’t 2001 a fun season for the Mariners? Ichiro would become known for his excellent defense. He ran down fly balls and line drives okay, but then he gunned down Terrence Long at third base and pretty much no one ran on him again. This may not have been the play that christened Area 51, but it did serve as a warning to any and all Mariners opponents that testing Ichiro’s arm is a bad idea.
It was still early in the season and early in Ichiro’s legendary career. The throw was so good that Long was long out. The play wouldn’t have even been reviewed today. That’s how out Long was.
Another reason why Ichiro won the MVP, other than leading the league in hits in 2001 and playing for the best team in Major League history, was his run prevention. After the rest of the league saw this throw, baserunners were extremely reluctant to try going first-to-third or tag on a shallow fly ball. He was a part of a great team that had great defense, which made the great Lou Piniella very happy all season long.
You’ll see this throw on pretty much every Ichiro highlight reel you can find now and forever.