Robinson Cano has a way of making baseball look effortless. Which is all well and good when he’s batting his usual .310 with very good power. When he slumps, his usual manner makes him look lackadaisical and disinterested, even though he might be anything but.
Cano went hitless in a fifth straight game Sunday in the loss to the Tigers, and he’s now in an 0-for-26 skid that ranks as the longest hitless streak ever to be compiled in a single postseason, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The second baseman also made a key defensive miscue in the seventh inning today, mishandling the relay from short on what should have been an inning-ending double-play ball. Quintin Berry scored the Tigers’ first run of the game on the play.
Overall, Cano is 2-for-32 for the postseason, though he does have four RBI.Raul Ibanez and Ichiro Suzuki, with five apiece, are the Yankees leaders.
What makes Cano’s struggles all the more incredible is that he finished the season on a remarkable 25-for-39 tear. He was so hot that even if one sticks the 2-for-32 onto the end of that, he still has a .380 average in his last 71 at-bats.
Given that Cano is the Yankees’ best player, there’s not going to be any benching him. He’ll just have to hit his way out of the slump, something that figures to be pretty difficult with the Tigers throwing Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer the next two games. Cano has hit .226 with no homers in 31 at-bats against Verlander. He’s 2-for-11 with a homer against Scherzer.
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.