Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Returning star Cano deserved better from Yankee fans-Joel Sherman

4/30/14, "Returning star Cano deserved better from Yankees fans," NY Post, Joel Sherman

"There have been many times in the five-plus-year history of this version of Yankee Stadium when the stands have been full, the games have been important and the noise and enthusiasm have been lacking. Many reasons have been cited for how the Stadium got unplugged. Poor acoustics. Rich folks unlikely to deliver much noise being the only ones who could afford seats close to the field. Too many indoor hiding places.

But finally something was unearthed that could stir a full-volume response from a even a quarter-filled stadium — that terrible, evil devil Robinson Cano.

You know he had committed the unpardonable sin of being the Yankees’ best player (by far) for about the past half decade, never was involved in off-field trouble and was well-regarded by his teammates. That horrible, horrible man. I really can’t separate who is the bigger public nuisance, Cano or Donald Sterling.

On a rainy, raw Tuesday night, the reception for Cano was chillier than the weather. He was booed incessantly, relentlessly and virulently from his pregame announcement through each at-bat. The Bleacher Creatures must have forgotten no team in major league history has spent more to import players from elsewhere as the Yankees have when they chanted “YOU SOLD OUT” at Cano.

The 10,000 or so folks who endured the bad weather sounded like four or five times that much with their animus drowning out the few who were trying to offer applause and thanks for the memories. It was as loud as the Stadium has been all year, louder than some playoff games of the recent past.

Overall, the reception was worse than even the Yankees’ play in a 6-3 loss to a poor Mariners team. I almost never comment on fan behavior, unless it is dangerous. But this reaction was so particularly mob-mentality dumb it is hard to ignore.

Cano insisted the booing did not bother him, sticking to pre-planned lines about not being able to control what fans do and not being distracted by the contempt. When asked if he expected better, Cano said, “Not just me, but anybody who goes back to where he used to play.” Instead, he was set upon as if he had committed unpardonable baseball crimes while here....

Is this really about Cano taking the Mariners’ $240 million rather than the Yankees’ $175 million? In case you can’t do math, Seattle’s bid was $65 million more. Was he really supposed to walk away from that to, what, continue playing for these fans who clearly harbored such deep love for him? Also — just for the record — he was severely underpaid on his previous contract with the Yankees

He never said a word about it and I don’t remember the fans offering solidarity and appreciation for that. For in case you missed it or have amnesia, Cano was arguably the most durable player in the game while with the Yankees, and also one of the best. He finished in the top six in the AL MVP voting in each of his past four seasons. This is the list of players who hit at least .300 with at least a .500 slugging percentage in each of the last five seasons: Miguel Cabrera and Cano.

In a broken Yankee 2013, Cano was the biggest reason the team actually contended, serving for most of the season as a one-man difference maker in a lineup that otherwise had more in common with the Long Island Ducks than any Bronx Bomber heritage.

Yet, unlike the Red Sox with Jacoby Ellsbury’s Fenway return, the Yankees decided not to show a highlight appreciation of Cano — a small act by a big operation. And then most of those in attendance for Cano’s first game back decided to give him the worst reception of anyone I can remember returning here. Worse than, for example, Jason Giambi (who was ensnared in BALCO while in pinstripes) or David Wells (who didn’t always show up in the best shape to play).

That it was authored in such a resounding way by such a small crowd only made it more stark. Ultimately, those who braved what Carlos Beltran called the coldest conditions he ever played in turned some wrath toward CC Sabathia and Brian McCann, whose struggles have been central to the Yankees scoring 10 fewer runs through 26 games this season compared to the same juncture with Cano last year.

It will be up to McCann and the new cast the Yankees invested in rather than Cano to energize this offense. If they don’t, perhaps, then the fans might remember just how good Cano actually was. That might not be worth their love. But it should make them ashamed of the kind of hate they offered on Cano’s return."

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