Ichiro Suzuki was great every season, no matter how bad the Mariners were. He even set the MLB hit record in what was at the time the Mariners worst season. Then, after a decade of all-star seasons, Ichiro just stopped hitting in 2011. Then he continued to not hit in 2012. The weirdest part was that Ichiro did not look like his game had slowed down much, it was as if he was just in a very, very, very long slump. Then in the summer of this year, Ichiro approached his general manager, asking to be traded to a contending team. Shortly after, Ichiro was traded to the Yankees.
Ichiro hadn't been able to hit to save his life for well over a year, but when that trade happened, he literally returned to being the Ichiro of old on day one with the Yankees. At first, everyone just figured it was a humorous fluke, until that hot stretch continued the entire rest of the season. Ichiro hit .261/.288/.353 before the trade. After the trade he hit .322/.340/.454, and he started hitting immediately once he became a Yankee.
I've often wondered about that. Ichiro is a class act, but I also think that a decade of being wasted by his franchise finally got to him, and he lost the drive. I think it's also possible that he was aware that success was his own enemy- because if Ichiro had hit well in 2011 and 2012 as a Mariner, he'd almost certainly be a mariner in 2013 and beyond. Given the state of the Mariner franchise, I really don't think he wanted his career to end that way.
I think this year, we might have seen the same thing happen to Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald is ALWAYS productive. He had some of the worst QB play in the NFL last year and still had 1411 yards and 8 TDs. The year before he had 1100+ yards catching passes from the NFL's worst QB group.
This year, Fitzgerald has not been productive. Barring a massive performance in week 17, he will finish with career low TDs and very nearly career low yards (rookie season).
Watching this unfold, I have to wonder if Fitzgerald has had his spirit broken by years of losing and years of having the same problems go unfixed. I also wonder if, were he traded to a superbowl contending team, if he would instantly revert to his best form instantly, just like Ichiro did. Then I wonder, is part of his malaise based on the hope that his team will gain the willingness to part with him?
Then I see Larry Fitzgerald, out of the blue, going out of his way to say very nice things about the Seattle Seahawks recently. Maybe I am over-interpreting, but I sensed a twinge of longing from that. Like a girl going out of her way to show interest in a guy she likes.
I don't think Arizona would ever trade Fitzgerald to the Seahawks. But I do think that might just be what Larry Fitzgerald secretly wishes for. If he's still a Cardinal next year (probable), I wouldn't be in a rush to draft him in any fantasy draft. I think he might just have checked out emotionally with that franchise, and probably won't check back in until he's playing for a winner.