Robinson Cano should use Carmelo Anthony as a role model. It would help the Yankees and it would enhance his free-agent value next offseason — particularly to the Yankees.

Cano and Anthony have a good deal in common, at least coming into this NBA season. Both have had renown as offensive geniuses. Anthony could roll out of bed and score 30 in the middle of summer, Cano could roll out of bed and hit line drives in the dead of winter.

But also there have been questions about their motors, passions and abilities to make those around them better.

Here in his 10th season, as the prime-aged star on one of the oldest teams in NBA history, Anthony has embraced the concepts of leading by example with energy, hustle and commitment to a full game. He remains a scoring wizard, but the chants of "MVP, MVP" at MSG are about more than balls swishing through nets.

Here is Cano readying for his ninth season, as the prime-aged star on what likely is to be the majors' oldest team. The Yankees sure need him to be a hitting wizard, considering the defections and deteriorations elsewhere in the lineup. But the Yankees need more than that.

There probably are no two managers I respect more than Tampa Bay's Joe Maddon and Baltimore's Buck Showalter. Both are not just baseball savants and master tacticians, but they also are terrific at understanding the human alchemy of the game. And what stands out when I have asked about the chances for a Yankees nosedive is that they talk about the day when Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte are no longer around. Because Showalter and Maddon see the old guard as vital to maintaining a culture of professionalism, protocol and expectations that braces the clubhouse through crises and helps the team to 90-plus wins annually, as if by muscle memory.