Yasiel Puig, Kevin Durant, Lindsey Vonn: The New Ratings Gods of Sports (Photos)
The Hollywood Reporter's photo portfolio also includes Yankees slugger Robinson Cano and Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III; as ratings and the price of rights soar, athletes are TV's new stars.
Second baseman, New York Yankees
"I can't wait until the offseason," says Cano on a breezy summer night as the New York Yankees uncharacteristically sit close to the bottom of the American League East standings.
Of course, the smooth second baseman isn't to blame for the team's troubles -- which are compounded by the impending suspension of tarnished All-Star Alex Rodriguez (about whom Cano wouldn't comment). But when you're the next-generation face of baseball's winningest team, with 27 World Series victories to date, some of the sports-media scrutiny is bound to turn your way.
"When I first came up to the majors [in 2005], I was interested in what people in the media said," the 30-year-old says. "But you have to learn how to put it to the side."
The media attention can be hard to ignore, given that he's the best hitter on the world's most famous baseball team in one of the biggest TV markets in the U.S. (YES Network, which broadcasts the Yankees on cable and was recently valued at $3.8 billion, is the most watched regional sports network in the country.)
Cano is making $14 million a year but is projected to increase his salary into the $20 million to $25 million range when he signs a new contract this offseason, which might have been the motivation behind Cano firing agent Scott Boras and becoming one of the first big athletes to sign with Jay Z.
Asked whether he's interested in following the hip-hop mogul's lead into entertainment, Cano says, "Maybe, but right now I'm focused on baseball, which takes up a lot of time."
When he's not working, the unmarried Dominican Republic native relaxes by catching lighthearted sports flicks: Major League and Rookie of the Year are two of his favorites. He also has a soft spot for this year's 42, the story of Jackie Robinson, after whom he is named. (Cano has a young son, being raised in the Dominican Republic by the boy's mother, who also shares that name.) Says Cano, "It's important for kids to see what he went through."
-- Eriq Gardner