Cano was apparently so intrigued by the prospect of joining the hip-hop mogul’s new agency, Roc Nation Sports, that he dumped baseball’s most powerful, outspoken, popular and demanding agent, Scott Boras. The decision could increase the Yankees’ chances of signing Cano to a new deal — as Jay-Z is an avid Yankees fan — but we shouldn’t be so quick to make that assumption.
What we can assume, though, is that Cano’s popularity and prominence outside of the baseball landscape is about to skyrocket. And before long, other ballplayers will follow in his footsteps.
Ask anyone about Jay-Z’s exact function with the Brooklyn Nets, and what you’ll likely hear is someone talking out of their keister. Aside from the known fact that he’s part owner, it’s always been a little unclear as to what exactly Jay-Z does within the NBA franchise. And frankly, it doesn’t matter.
Jay-Z’s mere connection to the Nets has played a huge role in what’s transpired over the past few years. Even with just a tiny stake in the franchise, Jay-Z has been instrumental in the Nets’ move to Brooklyn and the team’s emergence as a desired destination for NBA superstars. (See Dwight Howard, who’s consistently been linked to the Nets.)
“He is it,” Bruce Ratner, developer of Brooklyn’s new, state-of-the-art arena, said in an interview last year. “He is us. He is how people are going to see that place.”
When Jay-Z was brought in, it was a move centered on building up the Nets’ image, both inside and outside of basketball. The results have been tenfold, as many athletes nowadays want to transcend the sport that they play, and who better to bring them into the spotlight than one of the most decorated celebrities on the planet?
Now that Jay-Z has decided to tackle yet another business endeavor, his star power will once again be on display. Even if Jay-Z plays a minimal role in dealing with his sports agency’s clients, the connection is there, and thus the potential is there for benefits that even Boras can’t provide.
Cano is one of the best all-around players in baseball, yet he’s not even the biggest superstar on his own team. That honor instead belongs to Derek Jeter, or even Alex Rodriguez. With both of those players seemingly nearing the end of the road, Cano seems like a logical heir, but hiring Jay-Z guarantees that the All-Star second baseman will become a much bigger name outside of baseball circles.
This isn’t to say Cano is some unknown, but rubbing elbows with Jay-Z immediately has the potential to mean TMZ and People Magazine in addition to ESPN and Sports Illustrated. Many athletes long for that potential, and understandably so, as it makes them much more appealing to potential sponsors.
Would Cano achieve the same star status with Boras? He might come close. After all, he is the best player in baseball’s biggest market. But Jay-Z guarantees icon status, and for an impending, big name free agent who hasn’t yet achieved that social standing, hiring the hip-hop star is a logical — albeit bold — move.
When Jay-Z said “diamonds is forever,” he wasn’t referring to the baseball diamond. There comes a time when players must step away from the field, and Cano will likely do so as a rock star now that he has Jay-Z on his side at the bargaining table.
Jay-Z photo (right) via Flickr/Adam Glanzman