Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

High Road Is Right Path

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

High Road Is Right Path

Article excerpt

After months to think it over, the Yankees have decided against a video tribute for Robinson Cano, the expatriate who's returning to the Stadium for the first time tonight as a Mariner. Pity the Bombers aren't taking the high road with Cano, who just happened to get lucky with a $240 million contract. He's hardly Darth Vader.

Put it this way: If the Red Sox could be gracious enough to memorialize Jacoby Ellsbury in his Fenway homecoming last week - including playing his walk-up music before his first at-bat -- it wouldn't hurt the Yankees to do the same for Cano. Ellsbury admitted he was "surprised" by his former employers' gesture, but more than that, he said, "I was touched."

"It proved to me there were no hard feelings [about signing with the Yankees]," the center fielder said. "I gave everything I had to that town, to that team. I'm glad they acknowledged it."

The Yankees' hierarchy paid close attention to the way the Sox handled Ellsbury's return, although they were ultimately unmoved. The Bombers felt the Fenway tribute was focused primarily on the world championship season, which was an easy backdrop to welcome Ellsbury back to town. The Yankees, who didn't make the playoffs last year with Cano, feel there's no need to rekindle an unpleasant memory.

That's one way of looking at it. But Cano was the Yankees' best player in an admittedly lousy year, and they would've won less than 85 games without him. Cano played hard, he played through minor injuries. In fact, he was practically indestructible: As the New York Times noted, he played in all but 14 out of 1,134 possible regular-season games between 2007-2013, or 99 percent. While he lacked Derek Jeter's star-power or Mariano Rivera's charm, Cano went through nine summers in the Bronx without making an enemy.

It didn't help, however, when Cano said last December he "didn't feel respect" from the Yankees. That comment still bothers team officials, and rightfully so. Cano was offered $175 million over seven years, a whopping $25 million per. If that's disrespect, there's a legion of ballplayers who'd sign up today to be similarly abused. Cano should've known better to expect a 10-year deal from the Yankees, not after the way they've been fleeced by Alex Rodriguez.

So the Bombers let their best all-around hitter walk to a second- tier team. An embarrassment? Hardly. The Mariners will eventually rue this deal. But that doesn't mean the Yankees have to pull a George Orwell and erase Cano from their history.

He did, after all, help win a World Series, even if it was five years ago.

There isn't a single Yankee who'd say Cano should've taken that much less money to stay. Jeter observed the other day, "It's a business, and if you don't know it coming in, you learn it eventually."

The Yankees' brain trust should understand that ethos better than anyone, that, as a businessman, Cano made the only possible choice. …

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