Home Run Derby 2012: Why Adding a "Hometown Slugger" Would Be an Overreaction
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If you watched the Home Run Derby last night, you might have sworn you were actually watching a Kansas City Chiefs game with the volume of loud boos directed at American League captain Robinson Cano when he took his turn in the once-prestigious event.
On the outside, there could have been a simple explanation of these boos. Cano, the defending Home Run Derby champion, plays for the New York Yankees. The Yankees just happen to be not only one of the most covered teams in baseball, but one of the most hated teams in baseball as well.
Of course, there was more than just the fact that Cano wears a NY on his cap.
For the second year, Major League Baseball selected two players (one from each league) to pick a team to compete in the Home Run Derby.
In the first year this was done, Prince Fielder (who was then with the Milwaukee Brewers) declined to pick Justin Upton of the Arizona Diamondbacks despite the fact that the game was being held in Phoenix.
Fielder responded by hitting the game-winning home run in the All-Star Game and winning Most Valuable Player honors. He laughed and we moved on.
Fast-forward to last night, and Cano gets booed for declining to select Billy Butler, of the hometown Kansas City Royals. As the fans cheered with every out, Cano looked more and more nervous. His father, who was throwing to his son for the second straight year, looked like he was going to cry.
After the smoke cleared, Robinson Cano was shutout in the 2012 Home Run Derby, and now baseball isn't happy about it.
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Treating one of the premier players in the "Royal Family of Baseball" (New York Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Cubs, Phillies and anybody else ESPN gives way too much time to during Sportscenter) was too much for commissioner Bud Selig and executive vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre to bear.
Selig's new idea to save the Home Run Derby (again) is to force one captain to pick a hometown slugger to be represented by each team.
Personally, I didn't think Selig could top his home-field advantage idea in the All-Star Game. However, he's really outdone himself here.
Why doesn't baseball just select eight to 10 sluggers to bash home runs like they used to? Yes, hitters now fear the Home Run Derby like ESPN fears the Yankees and Red Sox at the bottom of the AL East standings, but come on.
The Home Run Derby is supposed to be fun. That's why Royals fans booed Cano in the first place. They were having fun at Cano's expense, and if he couldn't handle some boos, why is he playing for the Yankees in the first place?
Adding a hometown slugger would add that awkward moment where somebody who really doesn't belong there is added by force.
Could you imagine Joe Mauer in the Home Run Derby when the game is hosted by Target Field in 2014? (Yes, it happened during his bizarre 2009 campaign, but that doesn't happen that often.) It just wouldn't be fun to watch as he tries to drive the ball into the opposite gap for a double.
Also, the guy that Cano chose over Butler (Mark Trumbo) unleashed some "Trumbombs" that made even the biggest Royals fan scream in sheer amazement.
This potential move is an overreaction by Bud Selig and should not happen. One has to wonder why the same deal wasn't made when Fielder (the 2012 Home Run Derby champion) was booed out of the building last year, but I guess the "Royal Family of Baseball" has that much pull over decisions.
If you're going to let players pick the teams, let them pick the teams. Otherwise, MLB should just force guys to participate and add their own "Hometown Slugger."
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