Much has been made of reports in the media - and here - about Ichiro Suzuki's base-running gaffes in back-to-back games against Kansas City, both losses.
It's not picking on him to say Ichiro screwed up by not taking second base when Jack Wilson stole third on Tuesdsay, or that he should have attempted to score last night when third base coach Lee Tinsley was waving him home.
The issue now seems to be what to make of all this. Some folks think Ichiro is beyond criticism, and attack anyone who suggests he's erred. A radio station post-game show was accused of racism after pointing out a base-running goof.
Ichiro is, plain and simple, an All-Star player - his credentials speak for themselves. The hits, the arm, the speed, the batting average. No complaint about his lapses will change any of that.
What the last two nights proved was that Ichiro is mortal, and subject to the same loss of focus on any given night as everyone else. By nature or culture, he is not a risk-taking base-runner, and never has been. If he doesn't try to steal as many bases as some would like, it's largely because he cuts down his caught stealings by erring on the side of conservativism.
Ichiro has played with one spectacular team - 2001 - that flamed out in the post-season, and a couple of good ones. This year, the Mariners aren't good and won't be. A dysfunctional roster and players who won't reach their upsides has assured that.
If Ichiro wasn't paying attention to his third base coach for a moment on a July night against the Royals, he could probably join a large crowd of All-Stars. Baseball is a game in which even its best players can look bad - and most of them have, very publicly.
So Ichiro was off in his own Ichiro-World twice in two games, not for innings at a time but at the precise wrong moment in each. Did it cost the Mariners?
Yes, although what the eventual outcome of either game would have been can't be certain. A run might have changed each game. The way the Mariners have played all season, it may well not have.
Bottom line: Ichiro made a couple of mistakes. If you were keeping track, those wouldn't put him in the top 20 among his teammates. All it really proved is that he's as mortal as any of them.