I’m still trying to wrap my hands around the reaction Robinson Cano got when he returned to Yankee Stadium. Fans are fans. They pay their money, they can cheer and they can boo. But this was bizarre.
Cano said last week when he came to the plate for his first at-bat in the Bronx with the Mariners that he hoped he’d get a standing ovation. No less an authority than Derek Jeter scoffed at Yankee reporters who asked if he thought Cano would get booed.
So what happened? Cano got crushed. Every at-bat, every hit, every play in the field.
Even the right-field Bleacher Creatures – the guys who lustily greet each Yankee each day with their roll call – said hello to Cano and then turned on him. He tipped his cap to them and then they serenaded him with chants of “You sold out, you sold out.”
What a bunch of hypocrites. The Yankees offered seven years and $175 million. The Mariners offered 10 years and $240 million. What was Cano supposed to do?
Now, I think Cano made a mistake in terms of his legacy. If he had signed long term, he had a good chance to end his career as revered as the Core Four and with a spot in Monument Park. Cano obviously didn’t feel that was important. His call, no one else’s.
“I’m not surprised,” Cano said diplomatically of the reaction. “You’re going to get some cheers and boos. You just have to go out and play the game.”
The Yankees have spent pretty much the last 40 years making a sport out of throwing more money at guys than anyone else. Anybody think that maybe they don’t go out and get the likes of Brian McCann or Carlos Beltran – or certainly not Masahiro Tanaka – if Cano had taken their bucks? Think of that, fans.
The Yankees were clearly stung by the fact Cano said he “didn’t feel respect” from them last winter. So they opted not to acknowledge the return of perhaps their best player of the last nine years on their video board in a Darcy Regier-like act of pettiness (think Jason Pominville).
How should it be done? Like the Red Sox did with new Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, whose return to Fenway was feted by his old team and its fans even though he went to Boston’s most hated rival and not a nondescript outfit 2,500 miles away.
(And for the record, the Sabres more than made good after Regier’s departure in the case of Thomas Vanek and the farewells to Ryan Miller and Steve Ott).
Cano did plenty for the Yankees. He was their best player. He helped win them a World Series. Sure, he didn’t run out every ground ball. Show me a star who does. He deserved better treatment than this from the team and its fans. For once, Yankees fans found out how everybody else feels.
The Marlins swept the Braves at home for the first time since 2006 last week and there is plenty of growing chatter about whether the Fish are somehow stealing signs at Marlins Park.
Miami entered Saturday 13-4 at home with a .309 team batting average and averaging 6.2 runs per game. On the road, the Marlins are 2-10, batting .215 and averaging only 2.7 runs. Uh-huh.
“It was baffling,” said Atlanta pitcher Aaron Harang, who struck out 11 Marlins at Turner Field and then got torched for 10 hits and a career-high nine runs in his next start, in Miami. “Like, where were these guys last week? They were way too comfortable. It seemed like they were all hitting like Ted Williams.”
The Braves wondered if they were tipping pitches, either from the mound or catcher Evan Gattis.
“Yeah, you have this conspiracy theory, but at the end, we came up with nothing,” said manager Fredi Gonzalez.” ... they didn’t miss the pitches. They were right there.”
The Braves even had some concern something was being relayed from near the ballpark’s gaudy statue in left-center field.
“There was one guy sitting who had a red hat and an orange shirt,” Gonzalez said. “I said ‘Boy that’s a bad combination to have.’ ” Gonzalez told a couple relievers to keep an eye on the man but “the guy got up, went to get a Coke.”
• Joe Girardi managed his 1,000th game for the Yankees Friday against the Rays in the 14-inning marathon that stretched to 1 a.m. His .579 winning percentage put him fifth among the six Yankees skippers with at least 1,000 games to their credit: Joe McCarthy (.627), Casey Stengel (.623), Joe Torre (.605) and Miller Huggins (.597). Ralph Houk is behind Girardi at .539.
• The Rays played 32 innings in 36 hours in two cities – and won three games. They swept Thursday’s day-night doubleheader in Boston and then took Friday’s marathon in the Bronx.
• The Dodgers won the 10,000th game in franchise history with Wednesday’s 6-4 win at Minnesota. The Dodgers won 5,214 games in Brooklyn (1890-1957) and that was their 4,786th in Los Angeles since 1958. Only the Giants, Cubs and Braves have more, with the Giants first to 10,000 in 2005.
• St. Francis product and former Bisons second baseman Jim Negrych signed with a team in Taiwan last week. Negrych was 5 for 10 with Lancaster (Pa.) of the independent Atlantic League before making the move. Negrych, 29, was released by Philadelphia late in spring training.
Negrych, of course, was a Triple-A All-Star last year for the Bisons and was hitting .430 in mid-May but never got the call to Toronto. He slumped precipitously in the second half, finishing the season at .285 with three homers and 44 RBIs.
• You have to be impressed with the job being done by the Bisons’ new field staff, which consists of three veteran minor-league coaches (manager Gary Allenson, pitching coach Randy St. Claire and hitting coach Richie Hebner). The pitching and defense have been solid, and the team’s focus has been strong in the face of six postponements and brutally cold weather when most games have actually been played.
• Speaking of the weather, the bottom two teams in paid attendance in the International League are Rochester (3,490 per game) and Syracuse (2,463). While there are definite issues in both places, the weather has simply not been fit to sit outside in upstate New York all season.
The Bisons entered Saturday seventh at 5,595, largely to their 11,000-plus on Opening Day. In-house crowds everywhere have obviously been much lower because of the cold.
Around the horn
• The Rays were unhappy the Red Sox made them play a day-night doubleheader Thursday to make up a Wednesday rainout, preferring to stage the makeup later in the season when their roster was not as injury riddled.
The Red Sox, however, used a little-known provision in the CBA that allows for day-nighters to be scheduled at their whim in Fenway and Wrigley Field due to the facility’s small size and the lack of tickets available for rain checks.
The suspicion, however, was that the Red Sox had thousands of Dustin Pedroia bobbleheads on pallets in the Fenway concourse scheduled to be given out Wednesday that they did not want to put into storage.
As it turned out, Tampa Bay won both games of the twin bill and got the last laugh. Cracked Rays assistant player rep Ben Zobrist: “I hope everybody enjoyed their bobbleheads.”
• More quips from the Rays clubhouse, as manager Joe Maddon noted he took an RV to spring training while Tanaka “drives a 787 to New York City from Tokyo.”
• ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” will come from Wrigley tonight, with the ballpark’s 100th anniversary serving as a backdrop to the Cubs-Cardinals game. And there’s a special twist: Announcers Dan Shulman and John Kruk are scheduled to call the game from the right-field bleachers – as well as leading the crowd in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch.