Matthews: No Sympathy For Robinson Cano



I’ve never been a huge fan of Robinson Cano. I don’t believe it is asking too much of a gifted baseball player to routinely hustle down the first-base line when he hits a routine ground ball to the infield.

But I’ve always viewed Cano as a future Hall-of-Famer – until Tuesday, when the star second baseman for the Seattle Mariners was hit with an 80-game suspension by Major League Baseball for testing positive for a banned substance.

Cano said he took the substance for a medical problem and not to improve his performance on the field. Forosemide is a diuretic and not on MLB’s list of performance-enhancing drugs. It can be used to mask PEDs.

Will this suspension keep Cano out of baseball’s Hall of Fame?

In my opinion, Cano was on pace for Cooperstown before this unfortunate incident (for him and for his team; the Mariners are off to a 24-17 start but figure to drop out of playoff contention without him for much of the rest of the season).

Cano has built an impressive batting line in his 14 big-league seasons (9 with the Yankees and 5 with Seattle): .304 batting average (2,417-for-7,945), 522 doubles, 23 triples, 305 HRs; 1,206 RBI in 2,037 games.

He has been an above-average defensive second baseman (two Gold Gloves), has finished in the top-8 in American League Most Valuable Player balloting six times (3rd, 4th, 5th, 5th, 6th and 8th) and has played in eight All-Star Games.

On the negative side, he hasn’t been much of a base-stealing threat (51 stolen bases and 38 times caught stealing), he has a .222 batting average in 51 post-season games, and he has that bad habit of not hustling down the first-base line.

He needs 583 hits for 3,000. That’s been a ticket to the Hall of Fame for “clean” players. It will be interesting to see how much good baseball he has left in him,

Cano turns 36 on October 22 and his 10-year, $240-million contract runs through 2023.

My hunches are that Cano – who figures to be a useful designated hitter late his career – will finish with at least 3,250 hits. And that he won’t be elected to the Hall of Fame unless the voters give in and make all of the confessed and suspected PED players eligible.


Wednesday was Thurman Thomas’ 52nd birthday and the Buffalo Bills announced the great running back’s No. 34 will be retired October 29, at halftime of the Monday Night Football game against the New England Patriots.

It will be only the third number retired by the Bills, joining Jim Kelly’s No. 12 and Bruce Smith’s No. 78.

O.J. Simpson’s No. 32 has not been issued since he left but has not officially been retired for two obvious reasons.

Thomas was the 1991 NFL MVP. His greatest accomplishment probably was leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage four years in a row:

1989 – 1,913 yards (1,244 rushing + 669 receiving)

1990 – 1,829 (1,297 + 532)

1991 – 2,038 (1,407 + 631)

]1992 – 2,113 (1,497 + 626).

Which number should the Bills retire next: Art Stratton (58), Billy SAhaw (66), Andre Reed (83), Steve Tasker (89), Darryl Talley (56), Fred Smerlas (76), Kent Hull (67)? Or maybe none – to make 12, 34 and 78 extra-special?

Suggestion: The Bills should invite Janet Jackson to sing the National Anthem and maybe a belated Happy-Birthday-To-Us to Thurman on October 29. They were born on the same day – May 16, 1966.


Baseball’s best team at the moment (the New York Yankees) will face baseball’s best pitcher at the moment (Washington’s Max Scherzer) Wednesday night on ESPN. It makes up for Monday night’s awful matchup on ESPN – Tampa Bay at Kansas City, not exactly what baseball should be showcasing.

The Yankees are leading MLB is runs (231), home runs (57), on-base percentage (.339) and OPS (.783; on-base percentage + slugging percentage).

 Scherzer 7-1 record; 1.69 ERA; 57 2/3 innings; 35 hits allowed; 12 walks; 91 strikeouts; .167 batting average against; 0.82 WHIP (walk + hits allowed per inning).

--You know Houston has an amazing five-man rotation when 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel is the “struggling” starter:

Justin Verlander – 4-2 record; 1.21 ERA; 59 2/3 innings; 30 hits; 13 walks; 77 Ks; 0.72 WHIP

Gerrit Cole – 4-1 record; 1.75 ERA; 61 2/3 innings; 35 hits; 14 walks; 93 Ks; 0.79 WHIP

Charlie Morton – 5-0 record; 2.03 ERA; 48 2/3 innings; 30 hits; 13 walks; 77 Ks; 0.97 WHIP

Lance McCullers – 5-2 record; 3.63 ERA; 52.0 innings; 43 hits; 21 walks; 58 Ks; 1.23 WHIP

Dallas Keuchel – 3-5 record; 3.10 ERA; 58.0 innings; 49 hits; 15 walks; 45 Ks; 1.10 WHIP.

--Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels has a pretty good chance to be American League Rookie of the Year:

Batting -- .342 (25-for-73), 11 runs, 4 doubles, 1 triple, 5 HRs, 16 RBI, 45 total bases, 5 walks, 17 strikeouts, 1.105 OPS in 21 games.

Pitching – 3-1 record; 3.58 ERA; 32 2/3 innings; 23 hits allowed; 13 walks; 34 strikeouts; 11.85 Ks/9 innings.

--Fernando Romero has done a great job in his three starts for Minnesota since being promoted from the Red Wings: 2-0 record; 0.54 ERA; 16 2/3 innings; 11 hits allowed; 9 walks; 20 strikeouts; .193 batting average against; 1.20 WHIP. His next scheduled start is Saturday at home against Milwaukee.

--Cheers to veteran catcher Bobby Wilson, 35 years old, for hitting a two-run HR for Minnesota Tuesday night in a 4-1 home win over St. Louis. He raised his batting average to .133 (2-for-15) since being recalled from Rochester, where he was hitting .125 (5-for-40) in 11 games.  He’s spent portions of nine years in the majors because he is a terrific defensive catcher.

--Tim Tebow is hitting .290 in his last 19 games with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Double-A Eastern League), with 3 HRs and 11 RBI over that span. In the month of May, he’s hitting .310 with four multi-hit games. His batting average is up to .259. The only really poor stat: 50 strikeouts in 108 official at-bats.


The Boston Celtics are 9-0 so far in the NBA playoffs by an average victory margin of 11.6 points. On the road, the Celtics are 1-4, with an average losing margin of 12 points.

The three other finalists in the NBA tournament:

Golden State 6-0 at home and 3-2 on the road...Houston 5-2 at home and 3-1 on the road...Cleveland 5-1 at home and 3-4 on the road.

Total: Home 25-3 home...10-11 on the road.


Bovada odds for NFL 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year: Giants RB Saquon Barkley 3-to-2 (odds are so low partly because he is the rookie most likely to start right away and to see the most action)...Browns QB Baker Mayfield (11-to-4)...Bills QB Josh Allen (8-to-1)...Cardinals QB Josh Rosen (10-to-1)...Jets QB Sam Darnold (12-to-1)...Mariners RB Rashaad Penny (14-to-1)...Redskins RB Derrius Guice (18-to-1)...Ravens QB Lamar Jackson (20-to-1)...Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones (30-to-1)...Patriots RB Sony Michel (30-to-1)...Panthers WR DJ Moore (33-to-1)...Falcons WR Calvin Ridley (40-to-1).

Six ESPN NFL Insiders this projected the league’s “most improved team for 2018”: Mike Clay, KC Joyner and Field Yates picked the Cleveland Browns, Matt Bowen picked the Los Angeles Rams, Dan Graziano picked the Chicago Bears and Kevin Seifert picked the New York Jets.

If the Golden State Warriors remain healthy, how can they NOT win the NBA Championship? Their starting lineup has two future Hall of Famers still in their primes (Kevin Durant and Steph Curry), two almost superstars (Klay Thompson and Draymond Green) and Andre Iguodala, recently added to the starting unit. He was the 2015 Finals MVP. The bench isn’t as strong as in past recent seasons, but does it matter?

The Yakima (Wash.) Sun Kings are this season’s North American Premier Basketball (NAPB) league champions. They beat the Albany Patroons 2-0 in a best-of-three series (107-92 and 112-97 last Saturday night). All three games were booked for Yakima. Albany fans were not happy about it.


Wednesday, May 16

Detrich Enns (27)...Jean-Sebastian Giguere (41)...Gabriela Sabatini (48)...Thurman Thomas (52)...John Smiley (54)...Jack Morris (63)...Olga Korbut (63)...Eddie Hollis (63)...Rick Rhoden (65)...Rick Reuschel (69). Janet Jackson (52).Thursday, May 17

Ben Gamel (26)...Matt Ryan (33)...Channing Frye (35)...Tony Parker (36)...Carlos Pena (40)...Jose Guillen (42)...Jack Voigt (52)...Jay Riemersma (45)...Hubert Davis (48)...Danny Manning (52)...Jon Koncak (55)...Pascual Perez (61)...Sugar Ray Leonard (62)...Red Wings Hall of Famer Ozzie Virgil (86).


May 16

43 years ago (1975), Muhammad Ali TKOd Ron Lyle in 11 for the heavyweight boxing title...38 years ago (1980), the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Philadelphia 76ers for the 34th NBA Championship...33 years ago (1985), Michael Jordan was named NBA Rookie of the Year...3 years ago (2015), Victor Espinoza rode American Pharoah to victory in the 140th Preakness Stakes.

May 17

143 years ago (1875), Aristides won the first Kentucky Derby...79 years ago (1939), Princeton beat Columbia 2-1 in the first televised Baseball game – on NBC...59 years ago (1959), Sam Snead set a PGA Tour 36-hole record at 122...49 years ago (1969), Baltimore, Cleveland and Pittsburgh agreed to go from the NFC to the AFC in the revamped NFL...35 years ago (1983), the New York Islanders swept Edmonton 4-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals...15 years ago (2003), New York-bred Funny Cide won the 128th Preakness Stakes.

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