In a great New York Times article on his affinity for the infield hit, the Mariners great claims that he's never liked the ladies who can't appreciate the skill and precision it takes to leg one out.
From the New York Times:
"Chicks who dig home runs aren't the ones who appeal to me. I think there's sexiness in infield hits because they require technique. I'd rather impress the chicks with my technique than with my brute strength. Then, every now and then, just to show I can do that, too, I might flirt a little by hitting one out."
Ichiro doesn't say where his wife Yumiko falls on the issue or if they have an open relationship so he can capitalize on his prodigious talent of, uh, getting to first base. Otherwise, I can't imagine she'd be too happy with this quote from her husband.
However, if Ichiro wooed Yumiko with a steady diet of drag bunts and Baltimore chops, then she's likely very turned on these days. Fifty-one of Ichiro's 184 hits in 2009 have come the hard way and he's on pace to set a career-high en route to a MLB record ninth straight season of more than 200 hits. He's also "flirted" eight times this season for his highest homer total since he hit nine in 2006.
Even as a heterosexual male, I can verify the strange allure that Ichiro projects when looking to get aboard by any means possible. Earlier this summer, I watched in person as Ichiro faced Arizona's Clay Zavada(notes) in the ninth inning of a tie game. The two immediately locked into a fierce battle with Ichiro fouling off everything that Mr. Mustache could throw at him. Each successful defense of the plate solicited a bigger buzz from the crowd and when Ichiro finally dribbled Zavada's 12th pitch halfway to third baseman Mark Reynolds(notes), everyone at Safeco Field absolutely erupted.
Simply put, there was no doubt Ichiro would beat the throw to first and I suddenly experienced what it must have been like to watch Ali fight in Zaire, Petty rumble down Daytona or Nicklaus thrill a gallery in Augusta. It might be cliché to say it was like watching an artist at work, but there's no doubt that's exactly the feeling that Ichiro evokes any time he aims to advance 90 feet from home plate to first base.
Going back to Ichiro's quote, I can't say for certain whether or not there are women who value the beauty of a well-executed infield single over the strength of a home run, but I will tell you this — Every baseball nerd would sure like to find one.