Robinson Cano could not leave $70 million on the table. That is roughly the difference between what the storied New York Yankees offered their star second baseman and what the Seattle Mariners are paying. The Mariners have set Cano for life with a 10-year, $240 million (or so) contract.
Who could blame Cano?
Only the fans get caught up in this Tradition stuff. Cano, who was named for Jackie Robinson, “Will never be at a Yankees Oldtimer’s Game.” Such is fanspeak, the blather of call-in shows on sports-talk radio. It is meaningless to players.
When newly acquired backstop Brian McCann met the New York media and was asked about Yankees Tradition and his uniform number (34), instead of invoking Yankee Tradition (“Three is for the Babe, four for Gehrig.”), McCann honestly blurted out something about the number having personal meaning from his days in Little League.
Johnny Damon is the first “Modern Mercenary.” He played for seven clubs in eighteen years. He made a pile of money. He gave his all everywhere he went. But he would never be a Royal For Life or a Red Sock For Life. Ditto Carlos Beltran, with this sixth team going into his seventeenth season. Jacoby Ellsbury has been with two franchises approaching his eighth year. Unless God forbid something not good happens, don’t expect Ellsbury to end up with his current club, the Yankees.
The New Breed of Modern Mercenary is a businessperson. He plays hard. He plays smart. He is not selfish in looking out for his business interests. He can be a team player while building personal stats. Philosophers dub this “enlightened self-interest.” The big-market team is preferred. But Seattle will do.
The next stop for Major League Baseball, as it slowly internationalizes (as is inevitable), is the development of an IPL equivalent, wherein the money speaks most loudly and does nothing to muffle fan interest.