(Dude is rocking some sweet facial hair. Courtesy of Getty Images)
Does it feel like Robinson Cano has been gone for a really long time to anybody else? In reality, he's been a non-Yankee for less than a month of his career, but it feels like he's been away forever to me. He'll make his first trip back to The Stadium tonight when the Mariners come to town for a 3-game series, his first appearance back in front of the Yankee faithful since choosing Seattle and their 3 more years of guaranteed money over the Yankees and their 7-year offer. Most of the beat guys are trying to stir the pot by writing and tweeting about how the fans should react during Cano's first plate appearance tonight, but to me it's a non-issue. There's really only one acceptable option for how to treat Cano tonight.
You cheer him. Duh. When he steps in for his first at-bat, the crowd should give him a standing ovation, CC should step off the rubber quick to give Cano a few seconds to take the cheers in, Cano should step out, tip his cap to the crowd, and then step back in and take his hacks. Period. That's what should happen and any reaction other than that is poor form on the part of the Yankee fans.
Yes Cano took more money from another team that offered it. What else was he supposed to do? It wasn't like Seattle offered 8 years and $180 million, where the difference in guaranteed money was negligible. They were head and shoulders above the Yankees and everybody else in what they offered Cano and there was nothing wrong with him taking that. It's the same thing guys like Jason Giambi, Mark Teixeira, and A-Rod did when they signed big deals with the Yankees in offseasons past. It's the same thing Albert Pujols did when he left St. Louis for LA. It's the same thing Masahiro Tanaka did when he chose the Yanks over the Cubs this offseason.
Cano making a smart business decision for himself doesn't negate all the good that he did while he was a Yankee. He was the best player on the team from 2010-2013, a key contributor to the last World Series-winning team of 2009, arguably the best second baseman in Yankee history, and the best homegrown player to come up through the system since Derek Jeter. He gave the Yankees 9 seasons of his prime years at an incredibly friendly price (approximately $58 mil in salary) and left them without another bloated contract for an aging player on their books for the future. Where is there a reason to boo in there?
And what would booing him really accomplish? It won't change the fact that the Yankees have the worst starting second baseman in the American League by most statistical measures, and it will look childish and stupid considering Cano is experiencing the power decline that most expected when he went to Seattle and is saddled on a losing team, again like most expected. His checks are still clearing and he's still partying it up with Jay-Z and the Roc Nation sports family. Do you really think he's going to lose sleep over a bunch of spoiled New Yorkers telling him he sucks? Obviously he doesn't, otherwise he wouldn't have gotten a 10-year deal.
The bottom line is that by booing Cano, Yankee fans would be making themselves look petty and hypocritical. The right thing to do is to be mature, understand that the guy made a smart business decision, and remember all the good times that were had while he was a Yankee. If I were at the park tonight, I'd cheer him every time he came up. If people don't want to do that, fine. But at least show some class, give Robbie the standing O he deserves the first time he comes up, and then sit down and treat him like any other opposing player. That's the classy and smart way to handle it.