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Cano adds some life to the Home Run Derby

Chris Ruddick,
MLB Editor


Rounding Third Logo Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) - In an event which featured some of the biggest sluggers in the game, it was the unheralded Robinson Cano who stole the show on Monday at Major League Baseball's Home Run Derby at Chase Field.

Getting lost in the shuffle, though, is nothing new to Cano, who is often overlooked in that vaunted lineup of the New York Yankees. But now the rest of the baseball world is starting to find out what people in the Bronx have long known: Not only is Cano the most dangerous bat in that explosive Yankees lineup, but he is one of the best hitters in the league period.

After the power show he put on Monday, perhaps Texas manager Ron Washington will reconsider batting him eighth on Tuesday for the American League All-Stars.

With his father, Jose, throwing to him, Cano hit 20 homers in the first two rounds then swatted a finals record 12 to edge Boston slugger Adrian Gonzalez, as the two saved the derby from being one of the all-time snooze-fests.

I understand MLB wants to do something on the eve of the All-Star Game, but it is time for something new. Or tweak the Home Run Derby even further. By tweaking, I mean shortening. Or maybe they should just allow steroids back into the game.

Robinson Cano
Robinson Cano hit 20 homers in the first two rounds then swatted a finals record 12 to edge Boston slugger Adrian Gonzalez.
Obviously I am kidding, but maybe it's time to implement a new event. How about some sort of skills competition? I don't have the answer, but I know this, the Home Run Derby is played out.

The biggest problem is that the whole event just takes forever. Eight batters and it was a three hour event.

Luckily Cano and Gonzalez put on one of the best finals the event has ever seen. But those moments, like when Mark McGwire thrilled the Fenway Park crowd in 1999, or when Josh Hamilton delivered the most electrifying performance ever at Yankee Stadium in 2008 are just too few and far between.

Then there's the dilemma that the NBA runs into with regards to its slam dunk contest. The big players just don't want to do it. Heck it's hard enough to get these MLB players to show up for the actual All-Star Game, let alone a meaningless Home Run Derby.

As great as Hamilton was three years ago, he hasn't participated in the event since. Jose Bautista was a major disappointment this year with four home runs. I would be willing to bet that he's done now too with the derby.

To MLB's credit it has tried to tweak the system from time to time. It has done USA vs. the World, it has done straight AL vs. NL and this year it chose two captains, Boston's David Ortiz and Milwaukee's Prince Fielder, who selected the teams. At least they are trying.

Fielder, by the way, played the role of villain all evening, as the Arizona crowd let him know loud and clear that they thought he should have named Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton to the NL squad.

MLB really dropped the ball with that one. How does the host team not have someone in the Home Run Derby? If they had nobody worthwhile I may understand, but come on? Upton is one of the best young sluggers in the game. I can't blame Fielder for that one, MLB should have intervened there.

Aside from when Cano and Gonzalez hit, the crowd was dead for the most part. Granted those two were pretty much the only thing worth cheering for, but a hometown boy taking part in the festivities could have really livened it up a bit..

This was probably not the night to come down on the Home Run Derby though because Cano and Gonzalez put on a terrific show. Unfortunately, the other six participants didn't bother showing up.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.

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