In last night's Mariners game, the team lost a close one to Detroit, which was not a big surprise. What was surprising was to see Ichiro get upset and argue with the umpire after a bad call. Ichiro foul-tipped the ball with two strikes, and because he made contact with the ball, he should have not been called out. The umpire, however, said he missed the ball for strike three and was therefore out. Ichiro was not happy. He's a low-key player, so he did not yell and scream, but it was obvious he was upset. What's interesting was that it seemed he was more upset that the umpire didn't take his word that he fouled the ball off. As was reported on the Seattle Mariners News page,
"I reacted that way because it was so obvious that I hit it," Ichiro said. "If I had missed the ball, I would have run to first base. So for him to say what he did is to say that I'm lying. I'm disappointed and sad that he saw me as a player that would lie.
"It has happened to me a few times, but as a policy to myself, I don't like to lie to myself. Even if it's a bad result, I don't want to lie to myself. I consider myself a player who honestly plays in that sense. If I were a rookie, I could understand the umpire's reaction, but I've played many years in Japan and six years in the U.S. now and I wanted that part of me to be noticed. And if that part of me isn't noticed, then I'm disappointed."
I appreciate this sort of attitude. Ichiro is a guy who clearly has integrity and I believe that should be taken into account. I do believe it was to some degree with this play, since the umpire conferred with the rest of the officiating crew to confirm the call, which was upheld. If it had been most other players, I think that would not have happened.
I get very disappointed in professional athletes when they lie about how a play turned out, when they clearly knew it went the other way. You oftentimes can see ballplayers pretend they caught balls that obviously hit the ground before the catch or see players pretend to get hit by a pitch when they didn't get touched. What's almost worse is when the announcers praise that sort of behavior, reinforcing that cheating is part of the game. (Don't get me started on the World Cup where players writhe in the ground in mock pain when barely brushed by an opponent).
I can't remember where I read it, but I recently saw a comment on a website complaining that it seems that we're turning from a people who do the right thing to people who do what they can get away with. I'm not sure this is just a recent development in our culture as that commenter was inferring, but in sports, at least if you can't win without cheating, without having integrity, you deserve to lose.