COMMENTARY| Maybe it's because "juicing" isn't as common as it once was, or maybe it's because the event itself just isn't what it used to be.
Either way, the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby didn't live up to the hype, minus the towering fountain-splash home runs courtesy of Detroit Tigers slugger Prince Fielder, who defeated Toronto Blue Jays heavy-hitter Jose Bautista 12-7 in the final round Monday night at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
Maybe witnessing American League captain, the New York Yankees' Robinson Cano, going homerless had something to do with the derby leaving a sour taste in my mouth. Granted, he was tired, arriving to Kansas City late due to a game the prior night. I counted on Cano to pick up where he left off in 2011, blasting shots to the far regions of the ballpark at will.
Didn't happen. Not even once.
National League captain Matt Kemp didn't have much luck, either. He was viewed as a title contender. I wasn't impressed by his showing Monday night -- and I don't think anyone else was.
In the past, fans were treated to long balls courtesy of former Seattle Mariners star Ken Griffey, Jr., who, before Fielder, was the only player to win the derby more than once. Griffey had the sweetest swing of any player I've ever seen, and the old days of him launching bombs toward warehouses in Baltimore are, sadly, long gone. I understand that. But with this year's lineup, something great was bound to happen. I was sure of it.
Fielder came out of nowhere, it seems. He made it look easy -- calm, cool and collected -- while unleashing a violent assault on ball after ball.
Don't get me wrong, I love the home run derby. It's an event I look forward to each summer. Seeing Fielder earn the title as a member of the Detroit Tigers, my hometown team, was thrilling. Seeing him become the first to win the derby as an AL and NL participant was even sweeter. Good for him. Maybe that home run title will catapult Fielder to greater success later this season.
But when the obvious favorites are no-shows, the derby loses its luster. Bautista was great. So was Mark Trumbo of the Los Angeles Angels. But the derby needs more. It needs to select hitters that will actually give fans a show. Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates is having a wonderful season. However, he had no place in the derby.
Might as well thrown in Brandon Inge for good measure.
Adam Biggers has followed Major League Baseball for over 20 years, specifically the Detroit Tigers. He can be found on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.