Robinson Cano forgot.
Not that he made some “promise” to a city. Not how to hit home runs – though it might seem that way after last night. Not where he was – oh, Kansas City wouldn’t let him forget that. No, what Robinson Cano forgot was the whole point of the Home Run Derby.
Fun. That’s it. That’s all. That’s the whole point of the Home Run Derby. Fun to watch (I’m not actually saying it was fun to watch, but that it should be – maybe they should consider having kids call the derby … that could be fun), fun to participate in (just ask any one of those players last night), and fun to host. How many of those present at Kauffman Stadium last night were from Kansas City? How many do you think? I’m guessing a lot. And what do you want to see when you go to a Home Run Derby? Home runs? Of course. All by players from other teams? Um, no.
Cano could have picked Billy Butler. He could have. Some say he should have. I wonder how he didn’t. Because the point is not really which “team” wins the Home Run Derby. Seriously. You don’t think that’s the point, right? It’s an individual endeavor and everyone knows it. The whole “teams” thing is kind of ridiculous, actually. It’s a construct that doesn’t fit the event. Period. No one is going to remember that “Cano’s team” won the derby last night. No one. So the idea of Cano – or anyone, for that matter – hiding behind the “building a team” excuse to exclude a hometown player is … well … deserving of boos, in my opinion.
The national media seems to disagree, however, calling the boos “undignified” and “foolish” – some going so far as to “not call it classless, but …. ” Huh. I could say the same thing about Cano’s decision to leave out Billy Butler. Jon Morosi’s assertion that a stadium full of booing fans could influence a free agent’s decision to play for the Royals is absolutely correct – and completely wrong at the same time. He seems to think a stadium full of fans booing “the opposition” – which is what Cano became when he decided not to put a hometown player on his “team” – would send free agents packing, but I disagree. Who wouldn’t want to play for an organization with fans so incredibly supportive of their own players? Seriously. Did you see Butler laughing? Yeah, he loved it. Every single boo. Worry not, KC. The free agents were swayed – in a good way.
I don’t hate Cano – which is, I know, what you’re all going to say. I don’t. I love me some Prince Fielder, but I still sympathized with the booing Justin Upton fans in Arizona last year. They came out to watch some home runs – which is way more fun when it’s your guy hitting them. And I’m sure Prince sympathized with Cano this year. But I like to think if Fielder had it all to do over again, he might make a different choice. (Especially when you consider the fact that his “team” lost last year – remember? No? Huh.)
The collective and synchronized booing last night was actually somewhat entertaining. Aside from Fielder winning, it was my favorite part of the show. And the crowd certainly seemed to enjoy it, though I’m sure they’d say it was no substitute for watching Billy Butler hit a few out.
Most importantly, they seemed to have fun. Which is the whole point of the Home Run Derby, isn’t it.
And judging by the number of home runs Robinson Cano hit last night, that’s something he’s going to need to remember.