An Insiders Look At The Ichiro Trade

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know by now that long-time Seattle Mariners star Ichiro Suzuki was traded to the New York Yankees. In a unique set of circumstances, the Yankees were in Seattle at the time of the trade, so Ichiro literally had to walk down the hall of Safeco Field to join his new team. And then, just an hour after he was standing in the Mariners’ clubhouse for the last time, Ichiro was on the field for the Yankees — in front of the fans that rooted him on for nearly 12 seasons.

Ichiro Trade Press Conference

The Seattle Mariners official press conference

I actually learned about the Ichiro trade when I was driving into work. I was originally expecting a fairly easy day at the ballpark, simply previewing the series opener between the Yankees and Mariners, but I quickly realized that wasn’t going to be the case. I walked into the newsroom and there was a definite buzz. Instructions immediately started flying in my direction, and I was quickly on my way to Safeco Field for the Mariners official press conference.

I’ve never seen so much media at Safeco before. Yes, I’m new to Seattle again, but I did an internship with KOMO radio in 2003 when they were the flagship station for the Mariners — I was at every M’s home game and I never witnessed anything like this. The interview room was packed with local, national and international reporters. Ichiro was very stoic (for lack of a better word — maybe straight-faced is better) at first and he sat with perfect posture. He spoke through an interpreter — only addressing the media in Japanese. Ichiro thanked the Seattle fans and said he was overcome with emotion when he thought about wearing the Mariners uniform for the last time. Suzuki requested the trade, something he started thinking about over the All-Star break. After 15 minutes or so, Seattle’s front office left the podium, and New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi replaced them. Ichiro seemed to loosen up after that. He spoke louder, smiled and even started cracking jokes. He just seemed really comfortable with his new surroundings.

It’s not often a player in any sport is traded to the opposing team at their home ballpark. Ichiro said goodbye to his old teammates and then was suited up against them just hours later. It was honestly surreal for me to watch Ichiro take the field for the first time in a Yankees uniform (and it was even more unbelievable that it was happening at Safeco Field). He received an ovation from the New York and Seattle fans who were there to watch batting practice. Instead of hanging out with Felix Hernandez, Dustin Ackley and Chone Figgins, Ichiro was now joking around with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and C.C. Sabathia. It was interesting to see.

The ovations didn’t stop for Ichiro all night. The crowd roared when his name was announced in the Yankees starting lineup (batting eighth, playing right field and wearing the number 31 — he didn’t want to wear 51 to honor former New York Yankees great Bernie Williams), they cheered when he ran onto the field to take his position in the outfield, and they rose to their feet when he made his first plate appearance. Ichiro, appreciating the gesture, stepped out of the box, lifted his cap to the crowd, and then bowed to the fans. It was a very emotional moment for anyone in the dugouts, in attendance at Safeco Field and watching on television. I honestly got chills when the Seattle fans started the famous ”I-chi-ro” chant — even though their former star was now trying to beat their beloved Mariners.

View From Safeco Field Press Box

My view from the Safeco Field press box for Ichiro’s debut as a Yankee

Ichiro finished the night 1-for-4. He got a hit in his first at bat, stole second, and was eventually stranded on base. Suzuki then popped out to second in his second at bat, grounded out to first in his third plate appearance, and then lined out to second in his last at bat. As luck would have it, Ichiro made the final out of the game as Jesus Montero flied to right to secure a 4-1 Yankees victory. Suzuki’s catch capped an all around crazy night at Safeco Field — unlike anything we’ll see again in the near future.

After the game Ichiro told me that it was a “tough day” and he was actually ”nervous” for the his first game as a Yankee. He said that he’s happy the trade is over, and now he can start to focus on baseball again. Alex Rodriguez never played with Ichiro in Seattle, but the two became friends over the years anyway. A-Rod (which is what the name plate says above his locker) called Suzuki a “rock star” and he says this should serve as a huge “shot in the arm for Ichiro.” A fresh start might just be what Ichiro needs too — he was hitting a career low .261 in Seattle this season.

I wasn’t surprised Ichiro was traded to the Yankees (or anyone else for that matter). I was only shocked by what the Mariners got in return for him. Here’s a quick survey — raise your hand if you’d ever heard the names D.J. Mitchell or Danny Farquhar before the Ichiro trade. OK…now raise your hand if you still have no idea who D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar are. Chances are we’ll never know much about either of these guys. Both are 25-year-old right-handed pitchers, and both are currently in AAA. Williams, who’s played all of three games in the big leagues in his career, has a 5.00+ ERA in the minors this season, while Farquhar is now playing for his third team this year. If Mitchell and Farquhar are remembered for anything; chances are they’ll be remembered as “the guys who were traded for Ichiro.”

Tim Lewis Seattle Safeco Field

Working hard at Safeco Field after the Ichiro trade

There’s a part of me that thinks it’s cool the Mariners honored Suzuki’s trade request by sending him to a winner. At 38, Ichiro is getting older, and his window to win a World Series is getting smaller. Suzuki is one of the best players to ever come through Seattle, and he kept the M’s on the baseball map even after several consecutive miserable seasons. He served his time in the Emerald City and it was time for him to move on. I do think it’s interesting that the Mariners just gave Ichiro away though. When I first heard about the deal, I expected to hear that one of New York’s top prospect was heading to Seattle — instead it was two minor league relief pitchers and cash. The M’s literally gave Ichiro away.

Covering the Ichiro trade is a something I’ll never forget. It’s always wild to be thrust into the biggest story in sports. We were all at the center of the baseball world. There’s nothing more thrilling in the television business than a huge, breaking story like this. I was there to experience everything firsthand — from a perspective that hardly anyone else got to. That’s why I feel like I have the best job in the world, and I’m happy to share my “inside” experience with you.

What is your reaction to Ichiro being traded to the New York Yankees? How weird was it to see Ichiro in a different uniform — playing against his old team? I would love to hear from you about this. You can leave a comment below, or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and/or Google+. Don’t forget you can find more great sports coverage right now on http://allaroundtim.com!

A Dream Come True | Working On The Desk With My Dad

You know him as KOMO 4 News anchor Dan Lewis, but I know him as dad. Not only is he my pops (one of the several nicknames I have for the guy); he’s also one of my best friends — and now he’s also one of my coworkers.

Tim Lewis KOMO Sports

I don’t even know who this guy is…

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a sportscaster in Seattle. After paying my dues in smaller markets, my dream finally came true when I was recently hired as the new weekend sports anchor/sports reporter at KOMO. That means I wasn’t just going to be working in Seattle — I was going to work at the same station as my dad.

I work on the weekends, so my dad and I only crossover three days a week. We work together indirectly most of the time, because I only do sports on the desk on Saturdays and Sundays (my dad anchors Monday-Friday). During the week, I cover practices and games, and report live from the scene of sporting events. It’s the coolest job in the world, but that means working on the desk with my dad (something we’ve talked about for years) will be a rare occurrence.

One of those moments actually happened last night. For the first time in my life I worked side by side with my dad on television. It was an incredible experience, unlike any other day I’ve had a work before. Our station’s social media managers came in to take pictures of the two of us and live tweet the entire newscast. I even took part in a news tease (a quick promotion you see on TV before the news) with my dad — something sports guys are never included in. All of that happened leading up to my sportscast.

Tim Lewis Dan Lewis KOMO

My dad and me on the KOMO set together

NOTE: A friend of mine took this picture of the news tease when it ran on television. He sent it to me on Twitter, and it literally knocked the wind out of me for a second. I recorded the tease with my dad, but it was the first time I’d seen the two of us together – with our names and everything — on the set.

Then came the moment of truth…the actual show. Since I don’t hit until a little later in the newscast, I don’t stroll to the set until right before sports. I’ve thought for years what it would be like to walk into the studio and see my dad sitting on the desk. Well, I finally had that moment. I took a deep breath, opened the door and walked in. To my left was Steve Pool doing the weather, and my dad and Mary Nam were right in front of me. I have no idea what my face looked like at the time — all I know is that I couldn’t stop smiling.

I sat down with them, and two minutes later we were on the air. My dad tossed to sports over a picture of me as a little boy. I was honestly so caught up in the moment that I didn’t really hear much of what he was saying. When it was finally my turn to talk I was just really thankful that I made sense. At the same time, it was amazing how comfortable I felt. There were obviously some nerves, but these were all familiar faces — people I’ve known for much of my life – so that made the situation much easier. Not that I ever doubted it, but it felt like I belonged up there with them. That helped the show go off without a hitch. You can actually watch our first moments on TV (and check out some of the fun pictures they took of us) together by clicking here.

Steve Pool, Dan Lewis, Mary Nam, Tim Lewis KOMO

Steve Pool, my dad, Mary Nam and me

Following the show, I received an outpouring of congratulations. I honestly think that’s been the most fun thing about this whole experience. I’ve received congratulations/compliments from people I don’t even know, my best friends and people I haven’t heard from in years. It really means a lot to me that so many people care.

I honestly don’t know if this post makes any sense. I’ve said to several people over the last two weeks that I can’t even begin to explain how cool it is to be working with my dad at KOMO. This was my best attempt at putting it into words. I hope it isn’t too jumbled. If you’ve made it this far, I guess it wasn’t too bad. :)

Like I’ve mentioned before, I want to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment, or you can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and/or Google+. You can also find me on YouTube and Pinterest. In other words, you don’t have any excuse to not contact me.

Thanks for reading! Have an awesome day (or night)!

Starting My Dream Job In Seattle

Just like any other little boy, I wanted to be a professional athlete when I grew up. Luckily, I’m a realist, so once I noticed I didn’t have the skill, size, or athletic ability to make it to the pros — or even sniff college athletics for that matter — I decided to focus my dreams elsewhere. It didn’t take long for me to decide what I wanted to do; I wanted to become a sportscaster (because it’s the next best thing to being an athlete) — and I really wanted to be a sports guy in Seattle.

Dan Lewis | Tim Lewis

My dad and me at a Chicago Blackhawks game

Working on television in Seattle wasn’t just a random idea; I kind of stole it. My dad is longtime KOMO 4 News anchor Dan Lewis. I was always in awe of what he did (and honestly — I’m still in awe of what he does today). I actually remember sitting on the news desk at KOMO during an elementary school field trip, staring at the lights and cameras, and hearing voices blaring through the IFBs (aka earpieces) left behind by the anchors. It was incredible! That was the first time I thought to myself, “This is what I want to do when I get big.”

As I grew older, I held onto that goal. There was never a doubt in my mind that I wanted to become a sportscaster. That dream led me to Washington State University. Aside from the fact that I had terrible grades in high school, and my brother and sister both went to WSU, the nationally recognized Edward R. Murrow School of Communication seemed like the perfect fit for me. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. Washington State gave me everything I needed to start my career.

I’ve been very lucky to call several cities home along the way. I was most recently in Spokane, spending five years of my life there. I love Spokane. The people are incredible (they’re some of the most passionate sports fans I’ve ever met), the city and surrounding areas are beautiful, and my television station (KREM) was great to me. I honestly could have spent the rest of my life in Spokane, but that wasn’t my plan — it wasn’t my dream — Seattle was.

Tim Lewis & Cole Prill

My nephew and me at a fundraising event in Seattle

I love my family. They’re not only my blood, but they’re also my best friends. Over the 13 years I’ve lived away from home pursuing my dream, I missed my family like hell. It always ripped my heart out when I had to leave them, or when I couldn’t be with them for holidays (the news never rests), etc. I wanted more than anything to be close to them again. I also wanted to be near my friends. I built strong relationships when I was younger, and then I had to leave everyone behind. That was never easy for me.

The perfect storm came to a head a little more than a month ago. The weekend sports anchor/sports reporter position opened at KOMO. Everything that I ever wanted — working in Seattle, with my dad, near friends and family — was finally sitting in front of me. I quickly applied for the job opening, and not too long after that — I was hired! It was the most amazing feeling in the world. I’ve worked my tail off to get to this point, but every hour of overtime I worked (and didn’t put on my time card because I was “paying my dues”), every missed holiday, every second away from my family all finally paid off. I hate to sound clichéd, but dreams really do come true if you fight, scratch and claw for them.

The first day of my new job at KOMO is today. Just like an athlete, I feel like I made it to the big leagues. I get to cover the Seahawks, Mariners, Sounders, etc., for a living. It still feels surreal to me. I can’t believe I get to walk into work today and see my dad sitting in the office. At some point the two of us will be on the desk together. That’s something we’ve talked/dreamed about for years. That moment is now going to happen (yes, it’s actually going to happen — I still need to remind myself this isn’t a dream) sooner rather than later. It’s crazy to think about.

Tim Lewis KOMO

Getting comfortable with my new surroundings at KOMO

My drive, ambition and passion doesn’t end where this dream does. I’m going to walk into KOMO today rocking and rolling. I’ve had more than a month off (travelling to Europe and Chicago), so I’m itching to get back to work. I’d love for you to join me on this adventure. You can watch me every weekend on KOMO 4 News and/or you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, YouTubeGoogle+, and now Pinterest as well.

I always try my best to be a glass-half-full kind of guy. There’s no effort needed right now. I’m as full as I’ve ever been. Life is good and only keeps getting better!