Ichiro doesn't need Pete Rose's approval

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Ichiro Passes Pete Rose's Hit Record

On Wednesday, Ichiro Suzuki logged the 2,978th and 2,979th hits of his MLB career. Those numbers aren't particularly important -- a more traditional celebration will come later this summer, when the 42-year-old joins the 3,000-hit club.

But, of course, Ichiro put together an entire portion of his career away from Major League Baseball -- with Orix Blue Wave of the Japan Pacific League for nine seasons leading up to his 2001 MLB debut. All told, Ichiro's 4,257 hits between the two leagues top the 4,256 logged by Pete Rose.

Hits don't translate from the Japanese league to the Major Leagues one-to-one. Ichiro is not baseball's hit king. But he doesn't need to be.

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Surely, Rose agrees with that first part. The 75-year-old, who is banned from the game for life for breaking one of the few rules exlicitly stated in every MLB clubhouse, found time this week to diminish Ichiro's career in a way that only he so eloquently could.

"'They're trying to make me the Hit Queen," he said of Japanese baseball fans (via USA Today). "Next thing you know they'll be counting his high-school hits."

It makes sense for Rose to hold on so dearly to his beloved title -- it's the only thing he has left. He's banned from the game, with no chance of getting into Cooperstown, and most recently getting booted from his role as a FOX Sports analyst after several questionable takes (remember him ridiculing Josh Donaldson for coming out of an ALCS game after suffering a head injury).

For decades, ex-commissioner Bud Selig did his best to keep Rose away from baseball. It wasn't until Rob Manfred took office in early 2015 that Rose began appearing around the game again -- which is when it became clear that the game wants nothing to do with him.

Thankfully, hit totals are where the comparisons between Rose and Ichiro begin and end.

To the best of our knowledge, Ichiro hasn't broken one of the game's longest-standing rules -- or any of them, for that matter -- nor has he doubled down on web of lies for 20 years that hardly anyone believed in the first place. Ichiro hasn't served five months in prison for federal income-tax evasion. He hasn't been hit with lawsuits by his daughter for not acknowledging her as such, and he's not an alleged statutory rapist.

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So, no, Ichiro isn't baseball's all-time hit leader -- he's nothing like him. And he doesn't need the approval of Rose to be recognized as one of the best hitters the game has ever known. He's not the Hit King, but he's an ambassador, a philanthropist, a worthy role model -- words that don't belong in the same sentence as Rose's name.

When it's all set and done, he won't need the title that Rose so desperately does.

- By John Dorn

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See the highest-paid MLB players this season

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Highest paid MLB players - 2016
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Highest paid MLB players - 2016

T-25. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees & James Shields, San Diego Padres: $21,000,000

(Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

24. Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles: $21,118,782

(Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)

23. Jacoby Ellsbury, New York Yankees: $21,142,857

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

22. Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals: $21,571,428

(Photo by John McDonnell / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

21. Carl Crawford, Los Angeles Dodgers: $21,607,142

(Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

20. Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers: $21,857,142

(Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

T-18. Jose Reyes, Colorado Rockies & Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees: $22,000,000

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

17. Justin Upton, Detroit Tigers: $22,125,000

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

16. Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals: $22,142,857

(Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

15. Hanley Ramirez, Boston Red Sox: $22,750,000

(Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

14. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins: $23,000,000

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13. Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees: $23,125,000

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

12. Cole Hamels, Texas Rangers: $23,500,000

(Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)

11. Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners: $24,000,000

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

T-7. C.C Sabathia, New York Yankees; Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies; Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels; Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs: $25,000,000

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

6. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners: $25,857,142

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

T-4. Miguel Cabrera & Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers: $28,000,000

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

3. David Price, Boston Red Sox: $30,000,000

 (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

2. Zack Greinke, Arizona Diamondbacks: $34,000,000

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers: $34,571,428

(Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

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