YES Network’s Michael Kay blasts Robinson Cano for not hustling

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Leading off the top of the eighth inning with his team trailing the Padres 6-3, Robinson Cano weakly grounded out to second baseman Logan Forsythe, who handily threw him out at first with plenty of time to spare. Cano lightly jogged down the first base line before turning back towards the dugout.

Michael Kay, leading today’s broadcast on the YES Network, took a few minutes to take Cano down a few pegs, criticizing the superstar for not going 100 percent down the line. Shortstop Derek Jeter was brought up, as usual, as the paragon of hustle. The camera panned to him as he reverently stood on the top step of the dugout, sitting out the second of two expected games off due to a calf injury. During the break between innings, Kay tweeted this:

The instinct to praise Jeter for his hustle while he continues to battle injury after injury is interesting to me, since the hustle is one of several reasons the future Hall of Famer has battled so many injuries recently. The same goes for Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, one of a handful of players known for going 100 percent down the first base line now matter how routine of an out it is. Utley has battled lower-half injuries dating back to 2010.

One must do some risk-reward math when talking about the need to bust it down the line every time. There is a non-zero chance that the infielder makes an error attempting to make the play at first base, but there is also a non-zero chance that Cano injures himself going too hard down the line. The benefit is that, in those rare times an error is committed, you get a free base or two you wouldn’t have otherwise had. The consequences, when a player is injured, are manyfold: A) you may lose the player for X amount of time: it could be a day, or a week, or the rest of the season; B) you have to use a less-qualified player in his stead for as long as he is out; C) you risk losing more than one game; and D) in the case of the player not missing time, he still may compensate for his injury, increasing the risk for other issues, or he may simply play hurt, reducing his effectiveness.

The smartest players are the ones who don’t seriously run on routine outs. What little benefit there may be is far outweighed by the injury risk.

As for Kay, he is doing a good job of giving Cano a reason not to continue his career with the Yankees as he is eligible for free agency after the season. Why play for a team whose broadcasters, and subsequently the fan base, think you’re lazy and don’t care about the outcome of the game?

Kirk Gibson home run happened 30 years ago

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With the Dodgers trying to make it back to the World Series for the second year in a row — and trying to win it for the first time in 30 years — it’s worth looking back at the last time they won it. More specifically, it’s worth looking back at the signature moment from the last time they won it. Which, really, was one of baseball’s all-time signature moments.

Yep, I’m talking about Kirk Gibson’s famous game-winning home run off of Dennis Eckersley of the Oakland Athletics in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, which happened 30 years ago tonight.

All playoff magic for anyone too young to remember Bill Mazeroski’s homer in 1960 is measured against Gibson taking Dennis Eckersley downtown to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 win. Heck, even if you were around in 1960, it’s far less likely that you saw Mazeroski’s homer than it was for you to have seen Gibson’s. Nationally broadcast in prime time to a nation of millions who had not yet fragmented into viewers of hundreds of obscure cable channels and various forms of streaming entertainments, it was a moment that sent shockwaves through the world of sports.

For my part, I was fifteen years-old, sitting in my living room in Beckley, West Virginia watching it as it happened. Like most of the rest of the country, I was convinced that the Dodgers had no chance to beat the mighty Bash Brothers and the 104-win Oakland A’s. Especially given that the Dodgers’ leader, MVP-to-be Gibson, was hobbled and not starting. Even when he was called on to pinch hit, I had no faith that he’d be able to touch Eckersley, the best relief pitcher on the planet, let alone hit the ball with any kind of authority.

But, as Vin said when he called it, the Dodgers’ year was so improbable that, in hindsight, it made perfect sense for Gibson to have done the impossible: