There once was a time in Mariners history when any manager who dared sit Ichiro for a game, or for that matter an inning, was courting a death wish.

In the topsy-turvy world of M's baseball, Ichiro was the one guarantee. If the sun came up he was there, always in right field, always at the top of the order. He got four or five at-bats every day. These practically were laws of nature.

But that was hundreds of at-bats ago. That was before the decline that has been more rapid than most of us believed possible.