Stop Hating On Robinson Cano, Especially When You Have No Business Opining On His ‘Decision Making’

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Updated: September 4, 2012

Last night, New York Yankees’ all-world second baseman, Robinson Cano, ranged to his left on a Chris Gimenez ground ball in the eighth inning, but stepped awkwardly and failed to snare it. On the play, the eventual winning run scored, and Tampa cut the Yankee lead to one game.

Today around noon, I came across an article by John Harper, longtime columnist for the New York Daily News. The headline is harmless enough, just a frustrated writer pointing out a turning point in a close game: “…Cano’s defensive lapse costs Yankees dearly…” But what really got under my skin was the snide, backhanded voice in the body paragraphs. Harper refers to Cano as “the best defensive second baseman in the majors” and then has the audacity to loftily judge him on his split second decision making. Here are a few of the more salient instances of buffoonery, and my off-the-cuff reactions:

From the sub-heading, slightly out of context:

The real issue is that he’s the best defensive second baseman in the majors, and as a result, he thinks he can make any play at any time.

Yep.

The opening(s):

First things first: Let’s not make this about a lack of hustle on the part of Robinson Cano. He was wrong, to be sure, not to dive for that ground ball in the eighth inning on Monday that turned into a game-winning single for the Rays.

But it wasn’t a lack of effort from Cano that cost the Yankees a huge ballgame, as their lead in the AL East continues to shrink by the day. It was a bad decision.

Maybe this is nitpicking, John, but you write for a legitimate paper: why are these separate paragraphs? And have you ever heard of a run-on sentence? It’s actually difficult to speak this passage aloud, let alone come away with any idea of where the article is going. Let me help you out:  “… He was wrong, to be sure, not to dive for that ground ball, but it was not a lack of effort that cost the Yankees a huge ball game. …” There. Everything you said, just better, and in 30 fewer words and one concise paragraph.

Ok, this is where I start getting really ruffled. He begins by making a fundamentally correct–if indeed shockingly obvious–statement, but then just degrades into arrogant blathering. (What follows are three continuous paragraphs, with pauses for comment, but no omissions):

He thought he was going to get to Chris Gimenez’s ground ball toward the hole,

Had he thought otherwise, one could safely assue he would have taken another course of action

but in such a crucial situation, he should have dived to keep the ball in the infield and prevent Ryan Roberts from scoring from second base.

Agreed, in hindsight (that vision so notoriously 20/20) Cano should indeed have laid out to smother the ball

It’s like a baserunner deciding to steal third as the go-ahead run so that he can score on a sacrifice fly. It’s a great play but he better be sure he can make it. Otherwise he’s an idiot.

Speaking of idiots… where on earth is this a legitimate parallel? One scenario involves a player making a conscious decision to break one of the game’s cardinal rules, the other a split-second misstep. Can this get any worse?

Cano wanted to make a Gold Glove play to end the inning, not just knock the ball down and allow the Rays another shot at scoring. Instead he misjudged the speed just enough so that his last-second lunge wasn’t enough to come up with it, and as a result, the Rays came away with a 4-3 victory as the walls continue to close in on the Yankees.

Dear John, in what way are you remotely qualified to look at a ground ball, and extrapolate from it’s eventual safe passage through the infield, a major leaguer’s desire to make a highlight play at the expense of his teams’ playoff race? While we’re at it, how can you possibly comment on the accuracy of Cano’s ball-speed judgement? About the only thing journalistically viable in this statement is the fact that the play resulted in the eventual winning run, and that the walls do appear to have a persistant yen for closing in on the Bombers.

The fact is, Robbie Cano draws the ire of fans and journalists alike because he has mastered his craft to such an awesome degree that his optimal performance state is effortless. I give Harper at least some credit for labeling Cano as the best, and I give him even more for getting his back on the “nonchalance issue.” To be honest, I just have a problem with unathletic journalists sounding off on how potential hall of famers go about their business, but I totally commiserate with Harper’s need to vent.

The Yankees are sliding. When teams slide, fans–and journalists more so–tend to get angsty. I myself am guilty of my fair share of angst. It’s hard to watch events unfold over which you have no control. I get that. But for goodness’ sake, watch where you direct your ire, especially if you’re printing it.

It’s one thing to lambast poor performance in the front office; perhaps you’ve got some business experience. It’s even okay to deride managerial decision making; maybe you’re a corporate team leader of some sort. But unless the offense is downright egregious (I’m talking Milton Bradley tears-ACL-arguing-a-call egregious), keep your mouth shut about how a player should have gone about making a play. While there might be plenty of executives who chose Wall Street over a gig in baseball operations, unless you’re Tom Brady, if you could have been a major leaguer, you would have been.

-Ari Glantz

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