Congrats to Robinson Cano on his mega $240mm 10 year deal with the Seattle Mariners, a pay day beyond comprehension.
Cano is a phenomenal talent. Maybe the sweetest swing in the game. The strongest arm of any second baseman I’ve seen. Hits for power. Hits for average. Always made things look easy, sometimes too easy. Loves his dad, his personal pitcher at All-Star Home Run Derby hitting contests.
But Cano has one fatal flaw. He has a bad habit, and a reputation, whether fair or not:
Cano has a tendency to NOT HUSTLE.
And I have no facts whatsoever to back up what may be the outlandish statement of the century:
Not Hustling cost him a boatload of money.
How much is hard to tell, but a geek could easily put a figure to it.
- What’s the big apple worth over 10 years vs. 10 years in Seattle?
- How many championships will he win in Seattle vs. NY over next 10 years?
- What’s the endorsement market in NY vs. Seattle?
- What is a post-retirement career look like going down as the “greatest second baseman of all time” as a career Yankee vs. a Seattle Mariner?
- What are sound, non-emotional answers to the above worth?
$200 million? More?
So why did lack of HUSTLE cost him money?
First, Context That Matters
Baseball is a TOUGH game. Many people say the hardest thing to do is to hit a baseball thrown by another human being. Not just in sports, but in LIFE. Stats bear it out. Greatness in baseball is defined as failing 70% of the time.
History matters. This is America’s favorite past time.
No team in SPORTS, let alone baseball has more success (championships), history and legends than the NY Yankees.
HUSTLE is one of the first things every little leaguer learns. It starts every kid’s baseball education (and life for that matter.)
You run hard to first base. No exceptions.
You run hard in and out of the dug-out. Look alive. Like you CARE.
The rules of HUSTLE apply to everyone, regardless of ability. No discrimination on HUSTLE.
Have you ever sat in the stands of a Major League ball game and witnessed a big leaguer loaf it to first on a routine ground ball? The chatter that follows in the stands is comical. And the lessons Dads give junior IF he catches it are priceless.
The Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio…
“Because there’s always some kid who may be seeing me for the first time. I owe him my best.”
Here’s the brutal reality.
Decisions on people’s future always get made behind closed doors. Often times they are made on a combination of “gut feel” and logic.
Results always matter. Great stats are a huge factor. Great stats in the playoffs matter more.
Here’s the logical argument
- 10 year deals are risky, just look at A-Rod.
- Cano’s a phenomenal talent. Great stats. However, his stats fall off the cliff in the post season. That matters in NY more than anywhere.
What else matters? INTANGIBLES.
- How do the decision makers FEEL about offering the big/player demanded $’s? Better or worse? What about the other critical stakeholders, most notably the fans?
Hustle is one of the greatest intangible on earth. Hard to value HUSTLE. But you sure the hell know it when you see it. Or don’t. And it shapes that non-logical thought process when people are making big financial decisions.
Last, I present the great Yankee captain and will give my final argument after 45 seconds.
Derek Jeter is a first ballot hall of famer. Solid numbers, but there are 2 factors that set him apart from the mega stars of days past and present.
1) He performs as good or better when it matters most, the post season. The mega stars people say are better than him can’t claim this.
2) On the subject of HUSTLE. 78 seconds is all you need to know.
When the name Jeter comes up, these are the images and emotion the fans bring up. And management is no different.
When the name Robinson Cano comes up, can the same be said about him?
Hustle Matters. It’s 100% controllable.
Take it for granted, you will pay a big price.