So Robinson Cano, Yankee drafted, Yankee developed, Yankee blossomed, Mariner bought is making his return to "Yankee Stadium" tomorrow. The Yankee players are, to a man, giving Cano his due and acknowledging that, yeah, we all pretty much took top dollar too. But buried in the niceties and professionalism (the Yankees are nothing if not professional) this quote from Joe Girardi stuck out (emphasis mine):
"I’ve often said that the one thing that maybe was overlooked about him a little bit was his toughness. We saw plenty of times he’d get hit by a pitch and you didn’t think he’d play the next day, and he would. That was Robbie. Robbie loved to play, and he had a great smile and a lot of times made it look really easy. He was a really, really good Yankee."
That's pretty effusive praise from a manager I personally like quite a bit. Given that Cano has been harangued by a reputation for something less than full effort his ex-manager choosing to primarily cite toughness, a trait that while not the opposite of "laziness" is certainly on the other side of the Spectrum of Grit, is a classy and probably carefully chosen way of welcoming back Cano.
Yet, that last sentence. "He was a really, really good player." No. "He was a really, really good teammate." No again. "He was a really, really good Yankee." I imagine that in the head of Yankee fans the mere mention of the thought of a player bearing the title of "Good Yankee" imparts the mental image of a gilded warrior of Valhalla accompanied by the loosening of the chastity belts of the town's maidens.
No team in any sport can claim history the way the Yankees do, this is true. They have 27 championships. They have Ruth, Mantle, Gherig, Berra. They have called shots and World Series perfect games. But they wield that legacy like a 2 year old wields a hammer, bashing any and all within reach with it. The truth is simply this: No sporting entity has ever enjoyed the fragrance of its own flatulence more than the New York Yankees.
The Yankees, you see, don't care much what else is going on in the universe. Got a game going on? Middle of the 4th inning you say? Psssssh it's just the Mariners from that Washington that smells like fish. We got more important things to do:
This is a franchise that hijacked all of last season forcing every other team to honor Mariano Rivera and is now intent on spending all of this season making us do the same for Derek Jeter, even though he technically retired after the 2012 season. This is a team that kicked the best Mariner teams of all time in the teeth in 2000 and 2001 and now they want us to throw parades and shower gifts upon the very same steel-booted villains. It's a team that wins unjustly and turns that paragon of injustice into a national celebrity.
Well now the Mariners are going to New York. By all appearances the old order remains firmly in place. The Mariners are 10-14, 2 games from last place. The Yankees are 15-10, 1st in the "Best division in baseball." But look a little closer you see a Yankee team that's -8 in run differential, same as the Mariners. The Yankees have been a bit lucky so far, and the Mariners a bit unlucky.
Want to play the ol' "Would you trade the Mariner for the opposing team's player" game?
SS: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (no)
Now if you want to smile a bit more play the same game but add "with that contract" to it. The fact is even with all their big spending the Yankees don't have a single player of significance that projects to be better next year than this. They are a bloated aristocracy dressed in the finest fashions of 10 years ago. They are slow, they are fat, and (crossing fingers) they're ready to fall. The one player they had that actually looks like a pretty good bet for the next 3-5 years? Yeah he also looks pretty good in blue and teal with a nicely trimmed beard.
Robinson Cano left the Yankees because the Mariners paid him more than the Yankees and any other team offered. But Robinson Cano also signed with a team who's best players are almost all on the Springward side of the aging curve. Baseball teams are supposed to sign players based on what they will do, rather than what they have done. Maybe Robinson Cano did the exact same thing.
Screw the Yankees.
(For a more Yankee-centric look at Cano's return I highly recommend Andrew Mearns' article over at Pinstripe Alley. Its nuance and thoughtfulness were such that my desire to rage on the Yankees today was almost, but not quite, overcome.)