Dear Yankee Fans: Stop Trying to Defend Robinson Cano’s Lack of Hustle

There are two undisputed facts about Robinson Cano.  First, he is an amazingly gifted hitter.  Cano is one of the elite offensive players in the game of baseball, and it  is also well-documented that Cano works very hard to perfect his craft.

However, there is a second fact about Cano that the Yankee organization and some of the team’s fans attempt to overlook:  Cano does not  always hustle.  Anyone who watches Yankee games can recall instances when Cano has hit a ground ball or a pop up and then jogged to first base.

Cano is an elite player who – as he showed last September and earlier this season – has the ability to carry the Yankee offense on his back.  But, for whatever reason, he is also a player who simply chooses not to hustle in certain situations.

For example, when Cano was accused of playing harder during World Baseball Classic games than he does during the regular season, Yankee beat writer Andrew Marchand called the claim “nonsense,” and explained that “Robinson Cano is an equal opportunity non-hustler in certain situations.”   

In fact, on Saturday, Marchand tweeted about Cano’s failure to run hard to first base:

Phil Mushnick of the Daily News echoed this sentiment by recently providing this description of Cano’s lack of hustle during a June 1st game against the Red Sox:

Cano hit one to the right of Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who made a diving stop, rose, reversed course, then threw Cano out … by two yards.   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.

A few nights ago, a writer for a Yankee blog took to Twitter to defend Robinson Cano against the Yankee fans who were apparently getting on Cano’s case for failing to hustle during games.  The twitter tirade brought forth one of the best justifications for Cano’s lack of hustle that I have ever heard.

This individual started off by referencing the number of games Cano has played over the last seven seasons, as though this somehow provides evidence that Cano does, in fact, hustle.

  • “Cano has missed about 5 games in 7 years because he takes care of his body, so hustle THAT, the guy never misses a game.”
  • “For a ‘lazy guy’ Cano sure plays a lot of baseball!  Never asks for days off, and doesn’t accept them either.”

He didn’t stop there, however, as he explained further that Cano is actually “playing smart” by not hustling:

  • “Cano has missed all of 12 games since 2007!!!!!  That’s a guy who busts his ass and plays smart protecting his body.”

Well, this explanation makes total sense.  Cano doesn’t hustle because – wait – what?  Did he seriously argue that the reason Cano jogs to first base on a ground ball is to prevent injury?

This individual continued by comparing Cano to Derek Jeter and contending that Jeter’s injury during the playoffs last season was due to his always hustling (as opposed to, I don’t know, the fact that Jeter was 38 years old).

Normally, I stay out of the fray on Twitter, but I just had to investigate this to be sure I understood correctly:

Me:  So you think Cano jogs to first base to prevent injury and Jeter breaking his ankle was due to hustling?  Interesting.

Unnamed Twitter User:  I think exactly that Cano jogs to prevent injury!! It’s called playing SMART. Eli and Peyton Manning play the same way.

Unnamed Twitter User:  Eli always covers up and go[es] down when about to be hit, he doesn’t try to be a hero, and he never misses starts.

Me:  Hahahaha.  That’s seriously the funniest thing I have ever heard.

So, there you have it.  Robinson Cano does not hustle because he is attempting to prevent an injury.

And, clearly, Eli Manning sliding, or Peyton Manning stepping out of bounds, to avoid being demolished by a 250 pound linebacker is a perfect comparison to Cano failing to run hard down the first base line.

Wow.

The whole argument that there is a correlation between Cano’s lack of hustle and the number of games he has played is an incredibly stupefying one.   I would imagine that players such as Cal Ripken (who played in every game for over 16 seasons) and Pete Rose (who played in more games than any other major leaguer) would  certainly disagree with this conclusion.  The idea that Cano is “playing smart” and “jogs to first base to prevent injury” is simply laughable.

I implore all Yankee fans to stop making excuses for Cano and stop pretending like there’s a legitimate explanation for Cano’s failure to always run hard.   It is undeniable that Cano does not always hustle, and any honest fan will concede this.

Providing cockamamie justifications for – or refusing  to acknowledge – this glaring fault to Cano’s game gives all Yankee fans a bad name and plays right into the perception that Yankee fans are uneducated loudmouths.

Just stop.

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