No matter whom his high-profile agent seeks out as a dining companion on any given evening, Robinson Cano won’t be a Met in 2014, 2015 or ever, at least until his career is nearing its end and his options are limited to Spring Training feelers (which is traditionally the moment the Mets prefer to pounce). But a homophonic approximation of Cano was already one of us, way back at the beginning of us.
You could look it up.
Hell, I did. I got it straight from the plaid-clad horse’s mouth. Lindsey Nelson, in his 1966 book Backstage At The Mets, explained how Casey Stengel — who “could remember an inconsequential detail from fifty-two years back, but…couldn’t remember a name two minutes after he heard it” — foretold the tale of the Met superstar second baseman of the future…give or take a vowel and a half-century.
Coming north from St. Pete the first year, Casey was asked by a Baltimore writer for his lineup for an exhibition game against the Orioles. The newspaperman had a Met roster to check off the names.
“At first base, Hodges,” Casey said. “At second, Canoe. At short…”
“Wait a minute, Casey,” the writer said. “Who at second?”
“Canoe, Canoe,” Casey said impatiently. “And at short…”
“I don’t find any Canoe,” the writer said.
“Look, I’ll show you,” said Casey. He took the writer’s roster and pointed to the name, Rod Kanehl. To Casey, he was Canoe then and forever.
Canoe/Kanehl rode not the waterways but the subway to the Polo Grounds for ballgames and all over town just for fun, spending “most of his spare time” tooling around on the trains, according to Nelson (whose name Stengel famously called for whenever he wanted at least one of the resident Bob Millers to warm up). The hyperuseful utility player, who sooner or later boarded every position on the diamond save for pitcher and catcher, lasted three seasons as a Met. Hot Rod remains beloved in legend, though by Lindsey’s mid-’60s reckoning, “He couldn’t hit, and now he’s the foremost authority on New York subways in Springfield, Missouri.”
No matter his career batting average of .241, Kanehl/Canoe was a willing man of the people, traveling among them without pretense on a daily basis. That’s about as Mets as it gets.
Given his glamorous choice of representation as he pursues unprecedented riches somewhere beyond the penultimate stop on the 7 line, we’ll simply note “Cano” kind of rhymes with “limo”.