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Loving fans send M's many splendid things

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The Seattle Mariners received an interesting item from a fan awhile back -- a 2-foot-high wood figure of Ichiro in his familiar shoulder tug stance.

Ichiro Suzuki art
Michelangelo's David it's not, but you try sculpting Ichiro with a chainsaw.
Chainsaw art of Ichiro Suzuki. It couldn't possibly get any odder than that, could it?

"Well, someone sent us a baby Edgar Martinez doll," Seattle director of baseball information Tim Hevly said. "It's a baby doll with a knit Mariners cap with No. 11 on it. It's lying on a blue-and-white knit doily."

This is what you're missing in Texas, A-Rod. Chainsaw Ichiros and Baby Edgars and so many other mementoes of a region's love affair with a team. The Mariners, a team that could very well win more games than any previous team, has so touched their fans that they feel compelled to touch them back.

So, each day the fans stuff their envelopes and lick their stamps and mail off unsolicited valentines to a team expected to take in well more than $100 million in revenue. I'm not talking about the letters addressed to the players, who receive their own hernia-inducing load of mail each day. These are just addressed to the club. The ones containing chainsaw art, Baby Edgar and anything else they can fit in a mailbox that expresses their feelings for the Mariners. Especially songs. Lots of songs.

"We get four or five a week," said Gregg Greene, the team's promotions director. "I'd say about half are team specific, with lyrics about the team in general. Like 'SoDo MoJo Rap' or 'SoDo MoJo Rock.' (Somebody also sent in) 'Louie Ball.' That's about Piniella and sung to the tune 'Louie, Louie.' "

  How crazed are Seattle fans? They not only lined up the night before Ichiro Bobblehead Day, they even stayed for the game after receiving their dolls.  

"Who Let the Dogs Out" was last year's unofficial national anthem of sports, particularly in Seattle, where A-Rod had it played almost constantly throughout the season. With A-Rod gone and the Baja Men dispatched to one-hit wonder obscurity, fans have visions of providing the Mariners with the next great theme song.

"A lot of the rest of what we get is Ichiro specific," Greene said. "We received two songs called, 'Hey, Hey Ichiro.' We received an 'Ichi-Rock' and an 'Ichi-Roll.' Someone else sent 'Hit It Home, Ichiro,' sung to the tune, 'Take Me Home, Country Roads,' by John Denver. Somebody else sent us a version of the song, 'Secret Agent Man,' but it was 'Secret Asian Man.' "

"Secret Asian Man"? That had to be something to hear. Just what is the quality of these tapes and lyrics the Mariners receive, anyway?

"I guess I'd just say that we get a wide spectrum of talent," Greene said.

The Mariners receive dance videos as well. Someone sent in a tape of his family and friends gyrating in the backyard to a dance he dubbed, "The SoDo MoJo."

"I haven't studied the tape closely enough to learn all the moves," Greene said. "But it's basically a mix between a third base coach giving his signs and 'The Macarena.' "

Harold Reynolds jokes that when he played in Seattle, if he left two tickets on the dashboard of his car and forgot to lock the doors, when he returned there would be four tickets. But now Mariners tickets are suddenly more coveted than Microsoft stock options. Seattle leads the majors in attendance, has sold out 36 consecutive games, will sell out all the rest and likely draw more than 3.5 million.

Edgar Martinez baby
This lifelike doll is just a tad slower than Edgar Martinez.
How crazed are Seattle fans? They not only lined up the night before Ichiro Bobblehead Day, they even stayed for the game after receiving their dolls.

Someone wrote the Mariners and asked if it would be all right if she cut the team logo into a corn maze. Another wanted to market an "I-cheerio cereal." Local restaurants are offering sushi dishes called Ichi-rolls. Tour buses stop outside the stadium all day long so the passengers can take photos of themselves in front of the large player posters hanging on the walls.

A local group performing "The Mikado" altered the lyrics of the Gilbert and Sullivan opera to include references to Ichiro and the Mariners -- "We are gentlemen of Japan. ... We're here to take over in right field." After another local stage production, the director invited audience members to meet the actors, saying, "And now's a good time because the Mariners are leading 16-1."

And, mind you, five weeks still remain in the season. Imagine what it will be like once the playoffs begin. By then Seattle will be so in love with the Mariners and following it so closely that the city could be arrested for stalking.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for

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