It’s rare that I use this space to defend the honor of a Yankee. In fact this may be the first time. But after what happened in Kansas City last night during the Home Run Derby, I have to change my (Pin)stripes — at least for today.
Robinson Cano was mercilessly jeered by the home crowd when he took his swings in the Derby. The fact that he failed to hit one out, to the delight of the crowd, made the whole scene increasingly uncomfortable. Cano’s crime (other than wearing Pinstripes)? As captain of the AL Derby team, he declined to pick rising hometown star, Billy Butler. I understand the disappointment of the Royals’ fans; they’ve had little to cheer about over the past 27 years and were hoping their guy would get a share of the spotlight and give them reason to boast. But Cano instead went with Prince Fielder, Jose Bautista, and Mark Trumbo. No argument there. In fact, he also passed on Adam Dunn (25 HR’s) and Edwin Encarnacion (23 HR’s). Butler is having a nice season with 16 HR’s thus far, but I have yet to meet anyone who has mistaken him for Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays.
The KC faithful could have expressed their displeasure with a quick opening boo to Cano and left it at that. To razz him all night — especially with his dad on the mound pitching — was just plain classless. You don’t boo at an All-Star game. Even Philly fans know that! I have no doubt they’ll do it again tonight, even though he’s playing for the home team. They’ll probably even cast their aspersions on Derek Jeter and the rest of the Yankees in attendance. That should hopefully cement baseball’s decision not to award KC another All-Star Game for at least another 50 years. By that time, maybe they’ll have won another pennant and won’t find the need to invest all of their emotions into a home-run hitting contest.
Speaking of the Home Run Derby: maybe it’s about time that Chris Berman hand over the reigns to someone else? I love watching him during football season, he was the best Sporstcenter host ever, and he does bring a lot of passion and energy to All-Star Week. But his act has grown soooooooo old! Does he have to get apoplectic over every bomb that lands in the upper deck, plops in a fountain, or bounds off the scoreboard? Can you imagine him next year calling the action at Citi Field. Every time the Mets home run apple pops up, he’ll shout for all to hear, from Flushing to Bayside, “And here comes the Apple! Again! It’s apple picking season for Prince Fielder!” Spare me, please.
I save my final vent of the day for Tony LaRussa. As if I wasn’t annoyed enough with David Wright’s snub by the fans — specifically Giants fans, who stuffed the ballot box for Roberto Sandoval and Buster Posey, thereby denying the more deserving Wright and Carlos Ruiz of their rightful place as starters — now R.A. Dickey gets dissed in favor of another Giant, Matt Cain. I think Cain is certainly deserving of a starting nod, especially with his perfect game still fresh in our minds. But Dickey really has been the best pitcher in the NL this season, despite some recent shaky starts. And the fact that he’s the only man on the planet who can tantalize major league ballplayers with a baseball thrown from the knuckles, an almost extinct breed that may never again get even a whiff of an All-Star starting nod, I think LaRussa over-analyzed this one — surprise, surprise. Despite his eccentricities, LaRussa was one of the game’s great managers and deserves the honor tonight of leading the NL team. And I know he’s confident enough to make as many “I’m-right-and-damn-all-the-naysayers” decisons as he’d like (case in point: 2011 World Series), but he missed an opportunity to make tonight’s game all the more intriguing and reward Dickey, one of the game’s great rags-to-riches stories, with his moment in the sun (or klieg lights). A KC boo for you, Tony.