New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano is a very good player, and with a few more seasons like 2010 (.319, 29 HRs, 109 RBIs, 103 runs), he could even become great.
But even he knows it’s wise to keep expectations in check. So on Wednesday when Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long said he wouldn’t be surprised if Cano hit 40 home runs this year, Cano essentially did this.
When he regained his composure, he shared his thoughts on the matter with the media, including Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York:
After the laughter died down, it became obvious Cano was serious. “Maybe if you put in an extra half a season,” he said. “That’s not in my mind. I don’t think I’m a home run hitter. Most of my home runs are line drives. If I hit it, thanks God. But it’s not the kind of thing that I think about. I just go out there and try to have a beter season than I had before. Home runs are not in my mind.”
Amusing story, but Cano is right. He isn’t Adam Dunn. Nor is he Ken Griffey Jr., who interestingly also always insisted he wasn’t a home run hitter.
Cano has an ultra-quick, compact swing and can drive the ball out of the park — particularly to the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium – when he catches it right. He’ll hit his share of homers, but that’s not all he’s about.
And while Long was merely heaping praise on a star hitter, Cano is wise to focus on just hitting the ball hard, and letting the home runs come when they do.
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Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.
For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.
So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?
The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.
I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.
Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.
But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.
United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.
Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.
The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.