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

Aug 4, 2013, 7:55 PM EDT

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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?

  1. proudlycanadian - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:01 PM

    Sayonara Cano.

  2. deathmonkey41 - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    If Cano didn’t boot ground balls because he was half-assing a play, you might have a point. He’s frustrating to watch because you see him give up on something, then make an unbelieveable play the next inning and make it look easy. This guy could be probably be the best 2nd baseman ever, but I don’t see him ever reaching that level because he doesn’t have it in him to go 100% ever.

    • hammyofdoom - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:39 PM

      Another part of it is that he just seems so disinterested at times. It’d be one thing if he just trotted down the line, a ton of players do that and it’s sort of to be expected that you aren’t going to sprint down the line all 162 games. But it’s the way he carries himself when he barely jogs down the line, the way he nonchalantly goes after balls in the field…even the way he watches pitches sometimes with the bat on his shoulder and entire body relaxed makes you want to punch him in the face. Part of this comes from just how immensely talented he is and I will never EVER say that Robbie Cano isn’t anything other than a top player in this game but… goddamn, I can’t imagine watching him every day with some of the stuff I see him do when he plays the Red Sox.

    • Kevin S. - Aug 4, 2013 at 10:37 PM

      Cano has made three errors this season. The only qualified second baseman to make fewer errors has played three hundred fewer innings at the position this year. Last year, he was again among the fewest in errors made. It’s not like he’s booting the ball all the time because he’s loafing to the ball.

      • deathmonkey41 - Aug 5, 2013 at 8:13 AM

        If we were only talking about his season, then yes, you are correct. I’m talking about over his career.

  3. proudlycanadian - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:03 PM

    Sayonara Phil Hughes.

  4. sictransitchris - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:04 PM

    At least we’re not going with the racism angle this time.

  5. spacemaker101 - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    Best 2nd basemen ever… Don’t get ahead of yourself.

  6. ctony1216 - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:06 PM

    Cano has played nearly every inning of every game this season (but one), and he’s missed only 12 games over the previous six years total. So he only misses an average of 2 games a season, while playing as good or better second base, offensively and defensively, as any other player in the game.

    Cut the guy some slack.

    • hittfamily - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:46 PM

      Agree. Maybe he said to Girardi “Joe, my foots bothering me. I can play through it though.” Joe, knowing his second option was Nix or Brignac said “play, but take it easy”.

      162 games in 180 days people. The 2nd baseman has a .980 fielding percentage. Would you rather Cano take a day off, or not hustle down the line on a play that gets made 98 times out of 100.

  7. whistler54 - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:07 PM

    Uh, Derek Jeter broke his ankle and is battling injuries at the age of 39. He hasn’t battle injuries until now. So does this mean Cano shouldn’t hustle so he can be more productive in his 40′s?

    • hittfamily - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:50 PM

      Jeter’s also skinnier than an Ethiopian on a diet too. Cold sprints are safer and easier for some than others.

  8. flamethrower101 - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:14 PM

    I can understand Kay’s point. Sometimes when you don’t run out ground balls or you boot a routine play and you look lackadaisical, you can come off as lazy or unmotivated, like with Starlin Castro. But I do think that pro athletes are smart enough to know when to give it their all and when it would just be a wasted effort.

    Besides, Cano is basically the entire offense for this team. If he gets injured this team is screwed. They’re already out of the running but if Cano goes down say goodbye to any hopes of .500.

  9. caddog - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:15 PM

    Athletes are risking injury on every play. You never know when the important play will come along. You have to hustle on every play.

    • ajg314 - Aug 4, 2013 at 9:04 PM

      There is so much common sense in those two sentences that I can’t believe everyone doesn’t realize that. Sorry Mr. Baer, but I couldn’t disagree more with you and agree more with Michael Kay. These guys are supposed to be professional athletes. Professional athletes. You mean to tell me that he should worry about running? If he should worry about running, then why run hard at all anytime? This play wasn’t like something where he needed to hustle his butt off and go all out because the play was going to be close at first and so the risk of a hamstring injury comes into play. Not at all. But to say that he need not even put in a decent effort because he might get hurt simply running to first makes no sense to me.

      • paperlions - Aug 4, 2013 at 9:41 PM

        In theory, this is 100% correct. However, NO ONE in their job goes 100% all the time just in case what appears routine turns out to be more important than that….that just isn’t how the human mind works when it is experiencing the mundane.

        I am not defending or referring specifically to Cano here. I agree that he spends entire games/series looking lackadaisical……but almost no profession athletes go anything like 100% the vast majority of the time. Just watch guys run on ground balls, if it looks like an easy out, they go, maybe 75% (including Jeter), but if it looks off the bat like they may be able to beat it out, then they go all out.

        There is a reason Rose was called “Charlie Hustle”, because he was the very rare player that DID always go all out.

  10. buffal0sportsfan - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:15 PM

    Yeah sure it’s all fine and good when a pro does it but think about all the kids thinking they are pros half ass on plays and people think it’s just fine cause pros do it

  11. mybrunoblog - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:15 PM

    Wow. Couple of things. First off, Kay Didnt “blast Cano”. All three broadcasters spoke about Cano’s lack of hustle on routine plays. They were critical of him but it was fair criticism and much deserved by Cano. When I think of “blasting” someone I think of unwarranted anger and unfair criticism. There was none of that. All three broadcasters were professional.
    Second thing. The idea that a player should not sprint to first base because he may get injured is utterly ridiculous. Baer even mentioning this sounds so ridiculous that I almost could not believe what I was reading. I suspect we’d all agree that a player nursing an injury or a sore leg or something like should take it easy on the base paths. That’s entirely reasonable. That said, the idea that a major leaguer shouldn’t sprint to first base because he may get injured is laughable.
    Third point. Baer Goes on about how the Yankees are trying to re-sign Cano to a new contract and Kay shouldn’t criticize Cano due to this fact. Cano is going to be a free agent. He will follow the money. If the Yankees offer him the $ he wants he will return. If the Yankees get outbid he will leave. The home team broadcast has absolutely nothing to do with him coming back in 2014.

    • ohleee - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:27 PM

      “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.”

      WTF?!

    • Kevin Gillman - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:43 PM

      And if it does, then you have to question his feelings. After all, we can’t have a broadcaster “criticize” a player.

    • dptbs77 - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:50 PM

      yeah, if Cano is so sensitive and leaves a team because of what a broadcaster is saying about
      him then he’s got more problems in his head and not just not about hustling on every play.

  12. bobwsc - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    weird, since Kay usually tongue-bathes the taint of anyone in pinstripes.

    • cocheese000 - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:34 PM

      +100

  13. hojo20 - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:27 PM

    FINALLY! Phil Mushnick of the NY Post rips Kay/YES Network all the time about it. I’m glad Kay spoke the truth about Cano’s lack of hustle.

  14. andreweac - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:32 PM

    What about the children and their will to win?

  15. theskinsman - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:32 PM

    Kay getting his attention fix, nothing more.What a tool.I know,I know, when Kay was a bench warmer during elementary school whiffle ball, he ran as fast as he could back to the bench after striking out. So he KNOWS.

  16. cocheese000 - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:35 PM

    As an os fan I get pissed when I see machado not hustling because the other young superstars like trout and Harper seem to be running to first with much more aggressiveness.

  17. hittfamily - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:40 PM

    Harper’s hustle cost him some time on the DL due to crashing into the fence.
    Longoria’s hustle in stealing a bag caused him to tear his quad.
    Puig’s hustle by diving into walls has cost him time on 2 separate occasions.
    Dom Brown’s hustle got him a concussion by diving.

    All these injuries to superstars were necessary though, as they were either trying to gain runs, or save them. You shouldn’t teach these guys not to try to steal a bag, or catch a fly ball. Hustling down the line on routine grounders is different. It’s a good thing to teach the youngsters, but a bad thing ask your aging superstars to do during a stretch of 162 games in 185 days.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:44 PM

      Or someone you might drop a $200M contract for 7+ years on getting injured on a routine ground ball so someone can feel better about telling their kid to hustle.

      • hittfamily - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:55 PM

        Ryan Howard tore his Achilles trying to hustle out a routine grounder. That contract was bad before, but it’s awful now……. because of hustle.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 4, 2013 at 9:01 PM

        Another great example!

      • deaninajijic - Aug 4, 2013 at 9:30 PM

        Howard could of torn it trying to score from second. Guys who hustle cause hurried throws that go wild and they end up on second while someone else is scoring instead of being the 3rd out. Oakland finished ahead of Texas by one game last year. Who’s to say it wasn’t because somebody hustled

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 4, 2013 at 9:39 PM

        There’s a huge difference between hustling out a bang bang play at first and sprinting down the line when you are going to get thrown out by 10′+.

      • hittfamily - Aug 4, 2013 at 9:45 PM

        Who’s to say Cespedes doesn’t end up on the DL with a little less hustle and they win it by 5 games.

        It’s about maximizing value while minimizing risk. You don’t scream at a player for ducking a 98 MPH fastball, right? Why not? What if that run would have given the team the runner that ended up winning the game, even if it was a pinch runner.

        Loafing isn’t acceptable. Not running out a grounder to second after the second baseman successfully fielded the ball isn’t loafing it if you are your team’s only offense. When was the last time a second baseman fielded a ball cleanly and threw it away? Knoblauch? And if it’s thrown away, Cano is safe anyways.

        As a Rays fan, I get scared every time Longo has to sprint. If he’s on first, I hate seeing the next batter hit a double. I’m okay with him not sprinting to first on an infield pop-up, and I’m okay with Cano not sprinting to first on a 4-3 groundout.

  18. losanginsight - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    Hopefully the Dodgers don’t sign him for more than 5 years.

    • dondada10 - Aug 4, 2013 at 9:22 PM

      Cano, at minimum, is getting 7 years.

  19. greymares - Aug 4, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    What the hell is the matter with you people, at least 7 out of 10 times you step up to that plate you are making an out. The absolute best thing to do is hustle because maybe the 1 time you dont the ball is thrown away,amd your safe.anybody that condones anything but 100% effort is wrong whether your a multi-million dollar ballplayer or a basic laborer. EARN YOUR MONEY.

    • 18thstreet - Aug 4, 2013 at 9:46 PM

      Robinson Cano is paid a lot of money to hit homers and doubles. Don’t get me wrong: he should hustle on routine plays, too. But that’s not why he’s going to be rich.

  20. chip56 - Aug 4, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    Bill, your basic premise is wrong. Jeter’s not battling injuries because of running hard. Jeter’s battling injuries because he’s 39 and trying to recover from a broken ankle that prevented him from doing the leg work he normally does. Since turning 35 he has only played fewer than 150 games one time before this season.

    Cano is 9 years younger – running 90 feet isn’t going to hurt him.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 4, 2013 at 9:46 PM

      Cano has missed twelve total games in the last 6 years years. He’s also the best hitter on the team. How about we stop nit picking and just let him do what’s he done so far. Seems to have worked pretty well, hasn’t it?

      • chip56 - Aug 4, 2013 at 10:17 PM

        and Derek Jeter is a first ballot Hall of Famer…what’s your point?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 4, 2013 at 11:21 PM

        What’s my point? That he’s the best player in the team and has been the last few years and maybe people are piling in him for an idiotic reason? Thought I made that pretty clear.

    • hittfamily - Aug 4, 2013 at 9:53 PM

      He broke that ankle by running hard after a ball, not by getting hit by a truck. Injuries are often freak, like what happened to Jeter. Why risk it on a play he is out on 99% of the time?

      • chip56 - Aug 4, 2013 at 10:19 PM

        He actually broke his ankle planting his foot. The same 99% applies to the number of times a player can bust his ass down the line without getting hurt.

  21. hammerrm - Aug 4, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    Generally – though not always – I agree with your point-of-view Craig. But you are way off the mark here…it’s about winning baseball, it’s about being part of a team, and it’s about winning (or losing) with your teammates. Doing that is disrespectful to all of the above.

    • 22yearsagotoday - Aug 5, 2013 at 12:07 PM

      Craig?

  22. offseasonblues - Aug 4, 2013 at 9:24 PM

    You are what you practice.

  23. Stiller43 - Aug 4, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    “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.”

    Im sorry…i do like baseball…but if a player gets hurt running to first with speed once or twice a game (300 times over 6 months)…they should not be playing sports. Theyre clearly too fragile to do much besides sit in a recliner.

    It always makes me angry when someone doesnt hustle down to first, because at the very least, it turns the “routine play” into a “hey i better hurry to get this runner out” and more mistakes will likely happen from that.

    If you just puss it out always, theres no pressure…and a lot less likelihood to make a mistake.

  24. Stiller43 - Aug 4, 2013 at 9:45 PM

    Its 90 feet!! Just run!!

  25. jdvalk - Aug 4, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    Yeah, Cano’s going to let a comment from an announcer sway his decision…

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 4, 2013 at 10:01 PM

      Yeah it’s only the announcer who agrees, and not 90% of the commentariat in here…

      • hittfamily - Aug 4, 2013 at 10:40 PM

        Man church. It’s like we are on a quest to change the world here. Everybody thinks Cano is dogging it til he ends up pulling a hammy hustling out a popup to the SS.

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