Ichiro: Yes, I’m excited to be in Cleveland

We have learned by now that Ichiro Suzuki has mastered the art of telling laugh-out-loud jokes, even though he speaks to the media through an interpreter.

The Yankees’ arrival in Cleveland called to mind one of Ichiro’s most hilarious quotes, when he told the Seattle Times this in a notebook published back on June 11, 2007:

“To tell the truth, I’m not excited to go to Cleveland, but we have to,” Ichiro said through an interpreter. “If I ever saw myself saying I’m excited going to Cleveland, I’d punch myself in the face, because I’m lying.”

As I chatted with Ichiro for yesterday’s off-day story, I couldn’t resist asking him about the circumstances of that quote. Ichiro flashed a grin and said he absolutely remembered saying that, but wanted to clarify he wasn’t speaking ill of the city of Cleveland.

“There was a misunderstanding,” he said. “I think it was five years ago, there was a lot of snow and I think all three [actually four] games got cancelled. So throughout the year, we had to make up the games by going to Cleveland one off-day at a time. It wasn’t because of Cleveland.”

Presented in that light, it makes a little more sense why Ichiro would be threatening to punch himself in the face. By the way, there has been quite a bit of change since the last time the Yankees were at Progressive Field – it looks like a bunch of new restaurants and businesses have popped up in the area, and Cleveland boasts a casino now, too.

The quote is still funny, though.

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