By Jason Keidel
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Jay-Z prides himself on being a hustler — a universal street handle for someone who does what he must to make money. Even people in prison have a hustle, from selling soda to cigarettes to hooch.
But in the process, did he also hustle Cano? Cano just tacked 3,000 miles onto his commute to the Dominican Republic. He left the only baseball town he’s ever known. Seattle has a dearth of Hispanics. The Mariners have no history of success. (They’ve never even played in a World Series.) They are known for coffee and cold rain and bad baseball.
Sure, the Yankees are a diminished baseball club without Cano’s transcendent talent. But it doesn’t take a jeweler’s eye to see that he’s not worth an Albert Pujols contract, particularly since Pujols wasn’t worth it.
This hurts, but the ephemeral pain will be trumped by long-term gain. Neither Jacoby Ellsbury nor Brian McCann are as good as Cano. But both together certainly are. If the Yankees can wrench Brandon Phillips from the Reds, sign a few front-line pitchers, and stay healthy with the players they have, you can pencil at least 90 wins right now.
I never understood why Yankees fans are angered or bewildered by the team’s reckless spending. First, it isn’t your money. Second, this was always the implicit agreement we made with the Steinbrenners. We pay the inflated ballpark prices and they funnel it back into the team. It’s been our baseball covenant for nearly 40 years. And, warts and all, it’s worked pretty well.
And the Yankees didn’t exactly leave with a whimper. They already offered Cano more than he was worth ($175 million) and probably would have stacked a few million on top of their initial flirtation.
Is it better to be rich in New York City or really rich in Seattle. Most of us would choose the former. For some reason, Cano has no fondness for nostalgia and friendship and first place.
Frankly, this says more about Robinson Cano than the New York Yankees. Say what you want — and much indeed has been said – about the Bronx Bombers, but stingy isn’t a handle that sticks.
There are more endorsements in New York City. There are more fans in New York City. There is more offense in the Yankees’ lineup. Cano wouldn’t be the sole face of the franchise had he stayed. The Yankees have missed the playoffs just twice since 1994.
Everything points to the five boroughs except the fast cash. For someone with such sublime instincts on the field, Cano just showed supreme myopia off the diamond.
When a player says he’s about the money, he’s usually about the Yankees. Except Robinson Cano, who will find himself most sleepless in Seattle.
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