Many of you don't know who Peter Keating is. If I attach ESPN to his name, you do. He's very good. He writes terrific articles and I've read him for a long time. But he apparently isn't too big on pushing himself, or, should I say, he doesn't think players should... players like Robinson Cano.
Now, before I go further, let me say this; This isn't an attack piece. I don't want the Bleeding Yankee Blue readers to go to ESPN and Peter Keating and blast them on Twitter or Facebook or anything. In fact, I want you to do the opposite. I want you to thank him. Consider him a motivator. But let me back up a minute... I'm getting way ahead of myself.
Robinson Cano is a free agent. He may or may not come back to the New York Yankees. Do I want him back? Absolutely, I like the guy a lot. Does he present himself as a leader? He could, but he may not be...time will tell. That's my opinion. It's not wrong, it's not right, it's an opinion.
Now Bleeding Yankee Blue was never the first website to ever accuse Cano of non-hustle, but we are one of them. I grew up being told to work hard and you will succeed in life. I've been told by my parents, my mentors to give it my all every day I'm out there, be it work, be it sports, be it life. I've passed that on to my kids. No, I'm not screaming at the top of my lungs on the sidelines telling them to sprint down the line every single time. But I am reminding them because showing them and teaching them to strive to be the best is important. It's called hustle. If you don't hustle, then 9 times out of 10, someone else will take the spot meant for you. All I ask my children to do is work hard in life, otherwise, they're on a couch in a fantasy land of Halo 4 not trying to be the best in the real world. Look, no one said it's easy, but you try and hopefully you succeed. Success is earned. Don't believe me? Talk to Jorge Posada. Talk to Roger Maris. Talk to the guys who proved the doubters wrong. They succeeded because they hustled.
Enter Robinson Cano who I believe is a non-hustler. He's still a dynamic player, but when fans pay over $400 bucks to bring a family of 4 to Yankee Stadium to watch their hero in the ball park jog to first base... well, it's aggravating. And again, I'm not the only one. I just found this on YouTube. Clearly an annoyed fan wanted someone to see it and feels the same way as I do:
Now, I've simply stated in CANO: NO LEADER, NO DRIVE, "Maybe it’s him jogging down the first base line. Maybe it’s him NOT fist pumping after a game... Maybe it’s him just making it seem like it’s “too easy"...Cano looks like he’s padding numbers as opposed to leading a club to a championship."
Not only is that a pretty accurate observation... it's what many Yankees fans believe. This is an opinion on an athlete. I didn't say he was a drug user, womanizer, rapist or criminal... I accused him of non-hustle. In the household I grew up in... that doesn't fly.
Peter Keating writes a very good piece in ESPN the Magazine and I'm flattered that he took the time to seek out Bleeding Yankee Blue and use my quote. Coming from a guy like him, I appreciate it totally. But even though he makes an argument against mine, coddling Cano for his non-hustle, there's an underlying message that stood out to me as I read his piece. Hustling doesn't seem important to him. Keating writes this of Cano after my quote:
Now, this is where I have a problem. First of all, the fact that I'm being criticized for suggesting that Cano looks like he's padding numbers isn't wrong, it's an opinion. That's what I feel like he's doing. I'm entitled to that. Secondly, How do you write an article using quotes from Hank Aaron saying you pick certain days to "turn it on" and not turn it on, and not show the whole story? What about the quotes from people who believe Cano should be flooring it down the line? I'm the only one? That's wrong. I suggest maybe showing the others, the reporters and analysts who also have opinions about Cano's hustle.
ESPN's own Ian O'Connor wrote this of Cano and his "lack of hustle":
"Cano shows up for at the office more than any teammate, but he takes a few too many coffee breaks while there. The Yankees know that's not going to change, so they shouldn't bust the budget for a player who doesn't bust it for them."
Here's Michael Kay from back in August on Twitter:
Here's @RealMichaelKay again jumping on Cano for not running out a routine play. Really couldn't care less.”and here is why u can win.
— Michael Kay (@RealMichaelKay) August 4, 2013
Phil Mushnick of the New York Post brought it to light back in June, suggesting that no broadcaster in the booth that game even said a word about Cano's "non-hustle", but should have: "A tape showed what we’ve come to expect: First, Cano jogged. Next, after seeing Pedroia had to dive, he began to run. Finally, as Pedroia began to throw toward first, Cano resumed jogging. The least he could do was all that he did. Again. But, again, no one calling the game on TV saw — or saw fit to mention — that Cano surrendered early, that he surrenders early and often."
Here's Andrew Marchand of Keating's own ESPN writing about how Joe Girardi spoke to Cano about his "non-hustle": "During Joe Girardi's state of the Yankees address, he said during the season he spoke with Robinson Cano about hustling to first. 'I've talked to him about it,' Girardi said. 'He has played every day. He has been kind of nicked up. I've talked to him about it.'"
Even Girardi is aware. But seriously, above are 4 examples of the "Cano not hustling" story, yet, I'm the guy Keating chose to analyze. Weird. Now, these are all reporters and I run a Yankee fan website, but the message is clear; Cano's lack of hustle exists and in this world of pushing yourself to the top, in this world of spending boatloads of money as fans to see our heroes work toward a championship, it's amplified. Yes, my kids root for Robinson Cano every time he comes to the plate, but they're also confused when they see him jog down the line. Why? Because when they play Little League, they are taught 1 thing...
"When you hit the ball, you need to run hard down the line. You run, you run through the base on the single and you make the turn if you can make it into a double. You do it, because you want to win. The jog you give, is the run your team won't get."I've heard coaches say this in different ways for many years since I was a kid and I hear them say it to my kid's teams now. It's called hustle.
But this is more than just Robinson Cano. This is about life. Sure, I guess if I taught my children to push to win 2nd place, it would be a helluva lot easier on everyone. But that's not my nature and it shouldn't be yours. Working hard is a way of life. You work during the week and you rest of Sunday. You wake up every morning during a work week and you accomplish something big. Some days you don't want to, but who the hell coasts through life? You, Mr. Keating? Sure, you can take a shot at me as being a "cranky uncle" who whines about baseball players who don't hustle, and you can ask me when the last time I punched a clock 162 times in 180 days. But I'll answer the question, because I'm not a pimple faced kid blogging in my basement acting like I do things. The difference is, I don't act, I do. I'm successful. I'm successful because I worked hard. I hustle. I wake up to my young family everyday. I get them ready for school and teach them to accomplish something that day. Then, I trek into work like millions of us, fighting the crowds, dealing with delays, walking 15 blocks, and then doing it again at night after a full 14 hour work day. And guess what? I still have time to read ESPN and write about it. That's called life. No, I don't work 180 days a year, I work about 210 days a year, probably like you and I may be tired, but I don't complain. I also don't stop hustling.
Success is earned. You know how I know that? Because if I didn't hustle, you would have never found me, and you would have never put this little website called Bleeding Yankee Blue in your article. You could have picked anyone, even your own ESPN colleagues, but you didn't. So yes sir, hustle DOES matter... because I'm in ESPN the Magazine.
Thank you to Peter Keating for choosing me... and I appreciate your piece this week. We just don't agree... and that's OK.
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