The miniature extension of the legendary Ichiro, Nori Aoki, two inches shorter than Suzuki, again hit an unusual wall in Major League Baseball. The San Francisco Giants declined to renew their option on Aoki. He had been receiving a base salary of $5.5 million. He hit .287 with 5 home runs and 14 stolen bases in 93 game (392 plate appearances). Ultimate Zone Rating for defensive play said he saved between three and four runs with his glove. It was exceptional value for any team. His strike out rate of 6.4 was the lowest in baseball. The next closet had a 7.1 rate. And, Aoki ranked third in contact percentage, connecting on 91.6% of his swings this past season.
That is called being a great contact hitter.
What a journey he has had in the Major Leagues. First, with the Milwaukee Brewers, he had to go through a multi-day hitting and fielding drill for the suits and then former manager, Roenicke, before they decided to offer a low-ball contract in the 11th hour. It was the best he could receive. Then unexpectedly, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals, after becoming one of the best lead-off hitters in the history of the team. He and his wife had a child in Milwaukee. His friend, Hall Of Fame announcer, Bob Uecker was even asked to name the child. Of course after Bob suggested ‘Uke’, the Hiragana and Katakana writing was on the wall, ‘詳細はありませんビール’.
He was traded for a guy named Smith, a fellow the then General Manager had been watching for many many hockey seasons. The trade was an absolute steal for Kansas City which uses the Milwaukee Brewers like a minor league affiliate drum as the All-Star center fielder, Lorenzo Cain, and the All-Star shortstop, Alcides Escobar, were also given to them by Milwaukee along with two others for a pitcher who was traded to the Los Angeles Marinos for a not as good shortstop. I know. You can’t make this kind of story up.
While in Kansas City, Nori led the team, along with his other former Brewer teammates, to an American League Pennant and seven games in the World Series before losing to the San Francisco Giants. Ichiro never played in a World Series game. For some reason, Kansas City did not resign Nori. So, he, his wife and Little Uke, left for Bagdad by the Bay. There he was headed to an All-Star birth when he was hit while at bat which produced a fractured fibula, taking him out of the lineup for a month. Coming back was hit in the head by a pitch in Chicago on August 9th and sustained a concussion that forced him to miss the final month of the season. Yet he still had a terrific season in only 93 games. Of course, that all has caused Little Uke and his mom and dad to seek a new experience somewhere in America for next season.
But that certainly isn’t the end of the story.
The Brewers, before the Royals and now the Giants, have made a major mistake. Not because of the great leadoff hitting Nori provides, but they are missing out on one of the great young talents in the game…the young American called Little Uke. Truth be told, there is a rumor that he has a fantastic arm. Standing only 1’9”, it is rumored (again, with no viral social media proof showing this legendary action) that he has chucked a rattle, from his play pen, around a slight bend of the wall, into the glove of his dad, some 98’ 6” away. And the smack it made hitting the glove caused the rattle to explode after reaching, some have said because no jugs gun was available, at a severe 106 mph. Dad’s hand is a little sore but there is no evidence of any concussion ailments recurring. But he does have a slight twitching of his left eye any time he attempts to close his left hand.
Dad’s interpreter said that ‘Nori was shocked to see the rattle had a slight tail coming around the corner. It reminded him of the story that was told when he was a kid, about Baby Ichiro, who, as legend has it, fired his rattle 104 mpg but only 96’6″. This is called ‘pedigree’ folks.
Now, the Milwaukee, Kansas City and San Francisco teams find themselves not in the most favorable position to sign the youngster to a ‘Futures’ contract. As Bob Uecker told a Pigsville Press reporter, ‘What a shame. Here we could have had the future ‘Leaksville Lefty’, Vinegar Bend Mizell. Sorry, I’m so upset I have to go down to Saz’s and have a brat.’ Dismay has also traveled to KC, where, when they found out about YU, attempts were being made to trade unsigned Alex Gordon for the future rights to the young phenom.
San Francisco learned about YU AFTER they declined the option on the old man (33 years of age) and quickly sent a cable car half way to the stars to have a sit down with Nori. But Nori’s intrepetor was not available as he was going along with Nori’s agent to Mattel to sign a deal for YU, securing his family fortune. Yes, they are even talking about a ’Speed Rattle’ and a ’Speed Rattle Jugs Gun’, both with the Little Uke logo and trade mark. Nori is still trying to learn the correct response to the question of ‘sweet’ or ‘sweep’. (See above)
Sometimes Major League baseball just doesn’t think things through, as right in front of them is an analytic vision in plain view. While the Yankees are considering hiring a 13-year-old phenom GM from PS 112 to head up their ‘Looksee Analytic Force’ (LAF), it was said that this kind of thing would be on their radar if they can convince the teenager to join the pinstripes in time to make an offer for YU.
It seems that the interpreter and agent for Nori have some time after the Mattel deal is finalized. Rumor has it that Mars candies is also very interested in making YU a lifetime spokesperson deal for M&Ms.
The Texas Rangers are flying to San Francisco as this is being written. Vu Darvish is jetting in from Tokyo with a cowboy hat in hand, to have an old family style Bon Odori to create a meaningful group gathering. While usually held during the summer, Prince Fielder’s kids suggested it be pushed back for this very special meeting. It is thought that Prince’s kids understand bushi and ondo, traditional Japanese folk songs. Could be Little Uke might become a Cowboy’s fan this Spring while wearing the Star of the Rangers? According to unnamed social media sources, The University of Texas is pushing through an amendment to bypass the normal procedures and offer Little Uke admission into their University (school of his choice) for next year’s Fall semester even though he is only two years of age.
What the Giants and the Royals before them and the Brewers before them has caused, will not drastically affect their future into the next decade. For the Giants and Royals, that’s really not a problem for right now. They are loaded. For the Brewers, it is not a problem because they have never really seen ultimate success of wearing a World Series ring.
Meanwhile, the number 1 song on Dallas country western radio is ‘Ichiban’…ナンバーワン.