It was brutal. Brutal. There is no doubt that the fine folks of the greater Kansas City area, as well as visiting fans, were seen with a new respect, fear or disdain after Robinson Cano took his round of swings in the 2012 Home Run Derby. Local radio personalities even flew a banner over the stadium telling Cano he “blew it.” And to get it out of the way…Prince Fielder won the derby. But that wasn’t the story.
The media has spun this the wrong way. Barry Larkin, immediately following Robinson Cano’s 0-fer performance in the Home Run Derby, suggested that perhaps it was a little too harsh. But here’s what really happened, and why it happened.
As the “Captain” of the American League HR Derby squad, Robinson Cano was to choose 3 other AL sluggers to join him in competition. He hinted heavily at including Kansas City’s DH, Billy Butler, in the competition, only to opt-out on Butler when he delivered the list of competitors. Instead of Butler, he went with Angels slugger, Mark Trumbo. Trumbo was a great choice for the competition, but considering the fact that Kansas City was hosting the event, and the event is really all about putting on a show for the fans…and it was hinted to the fans that Billy Butler would be included in the derby…? Yep. Simply put. Cano flaked.
All me to repeat something. This event…is about the fans. No real baseball fan gives two craps about somebody winning the competition of hitting modified soft toss out of the stadium. It’s all about the show. About giving the fans what they want. Had Cano been forthcoming and said, “I don’t think Butler will be on my team” from the get-go…a non-issue.
Those watching might considered the fans intentionally cruel, but the other side would state that they’re simply loyal. Perhaps loyal to a fault. They love their KC Royals. Regardless of how bad the team may be, the people of Kansas City will still be in the seats…hoping. And this year, they may have more young talent than any other squad in the league. And they wanted it on display for the nation. Who can fault them?
Was it too much? Yeah. It was too much. But these fans are the nicest, hardcore fans you’ll ever meet, and this was their way of stating that they wanted to have a few words with Cano after he bailed on the Billy Butler selection. Simply put. He could have been a hero of sorts in KC with such a selection. He chose his own path.
And it wasn’t all boos. At least they cheered every time he failed to hit a home run.
I’m just hopeful this ignites a little something in the realm of a new MLB rivalry.