By Steve Silverman
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The swing is the thing.
There’s something romantic about sitting down to watch a baseball game in the summer time. When you can do it live and in person and see the best players in the game practice their craft, you can’t help but go back to a time when you had your own dreams.
Most of us see those dreams fade away before the end of junior high school. But when you observe Major League Baseball players live and in person, you see survivors who had great talent and worked impossibly hard to get even better.
It’s one thing for a player to make the major leagues, but it’s quite another to be the best of the best. New York baseball fans have a chance to watch one player who has a swing that may be the most beautiful, well-balanced and picturesque in the history of the game.
That is the swing that Robinson Cano puts on the ball nearly every time he swings the bat. It is smooth. It is balanced. It is efficient. It is powerful.
It’s about as close to perfect as possible.
If you look at films of the greatest hitters in history, the only one of the all-time greats with a swing even close to as artistic as Cano’s was the one that the legendary Ted Williams used for the Red Sox. Lou Gehrig’s was not bad either, but don’t even bring up Babe Ruth. He was the best player in the history of the game and he had a powerful and awe-inspiring swing, but it was never as balanced as the one Cano brings to the plate.
Rod Carew had an exquisite swing for the Minnesota Twins and California Angels. One of his disciples of the 1970s and ‘80s was ex-Red Sox and Brewer Cecil Cooper. He did not always get the results, but it looked like it belonged in a picture.
Among current and recent players, Ken Griffey Jr. often had a majestic swing, Chipper Jones has a swing of beauty from the left-hand batter’s box and Philadelphia’s Chase Utley is right there as well. Among right-handed hitters – most of the notable swings have come from left-handed hitters – Albert Pujols has one that is as beautiful as it is powerful.
But when Cano comes to the plate and prepares to swing, I get the same feeling in the pit of my gut that I would have if I got to sit in the same room when Leonardo Da Vinci painted, John Lennon wrote lyrics or Bobby Flay prepares a meal. (There would be a tangible reward to that one.)
They have all perfected their craft and brought it to a new level.
It doesn’t even matter that Cano is not having a stellar year. Remember, he started the season slowly and he’s only hitting .299 at this point. He has also struck out 42 times, which is far more than a hitter with his balance should ever have.
But when it all comes together for him, the results are majestic. Such was the case in the eighth inning last night when Cano took Miguel Batista deep over the centerfield fence at Citi Field. The home run provided the winning margin in a 6-5 Yankee victory. But it was the balance and perfection of the swing that is so dramatic.
The beauty of Cano is that even when he swings and misses, the elements are still there. He is so fluid and athletic. He is not going to change from game to game, month to month nor season to season. He makes adjustments based on the at bat and the pitcher, but those are all mental adjustments. He doesn’t change his mechanics.
That’s why Yankee fans should always feel confident when Cano comes up. There are hitters who are more productive and will hit more home runs. But no one will put a more perfect swing on the ball. He is not the best hitter in baseball, but he just may have the best swing of the last 50 years.
Does Cano have the best swing in all of baseball? Be heard in the comments below…