New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano knew he was going to endure some jeers from the Kansas City Royals fans in attendance for the 2012 Home Run Derby, but the extent and length of the boos may have been a surprise.
Cano, the defending champion was selected as the captain of this year’s American League team and was given the responsibility of rounding out his teammates. He bypassed Kansas City’s hometown hero and All-Star representative Billy Butler and he didn’t hear the end of it for the entire night. The fans booed him during an interview, it was downright raucous as he approached the plate for his turn in the derby and they rounding cheered each of his mishaps.
A plane circled Kauffman Stadium with a banner attached to it which read, “CONGRATS BILLY! YOU BLEW IT CANO!” Cano, who didn’t seem frazzled by the unwelcoming fans, admitted that he may have made the wrong selection. “This is for the fans, and that was what they wanted,” Cano said. “Sometimes you decide something and it’s not right. It’s like the All-Star Game; some guys are not here and they get [upset]. Sometimes you make a decision and it’s not the right one.”
Cano further explained the difficulty of the selection process. “It’s not like I didn’t pick him because I don’t like him,” Cano said. “It was a tough decision. I didn’t pick Adam Dunn, who has  bombs. You’ve got [Edwin] Encarnacion, who has 23. The bad thing is you only get to pick three guys.”
Butler, who has 16 homers on the season, was enjoying the support from his fans as he was seen smiling when the camera panned to him while Cano was floundering at the plate. Butler commented, “Robinson is a great player, and he made his team; it’s as simple as that–I hope I get one in the future, and it’s nothing I can control. It’s not something that’s bothering me — I’m just enjoying the experience of being an All-Star. It’s great.”
So, with the fans ready to boo his every move, Cano walked to home plate and it may have been the loudest this stadium has been since George Brett manned third base in the 1985 World Series. Cano had a lazy swing, which is unsurprising after he landed in town around 4:30 a.m., after the Yankees late finish in Boston on Sunday night. The Yankees had played four games in 72 hours and Cano was in all four of them. With the media requirements etc., Cano only received a few hours of sleep Monday morning.
His father, former major league pitcher, Jose Cano, was once again on the mound for his son. It was the elder Cano who may have been affected by the way his son was treated as he zipped some of the pitches a little stronger than his boy expected. At one point Cano’s teammates Curtis Granderson and CC Sabathia came out to try and slow his father’s delivery down and let Robinson catch a breath in between tosses.
Cano drove only three balls as far as the warning track and one nearly left the yard but instead hit the upper half of the wall in right field. In the end, the event is for charity and fun and Cano took the brow beating in stride. He was happy his team won, as Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder recorded his second Derby win with 12 homers in the final round beating out Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. Cano receives $150K for a charity of his choice and State Farm, the sponsor of the competition, will donate $100K to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America in Cano’s name.
It seemed like fate wanted this moment for the fans in Kansas City. They’ve waited a long time to be in the spotlight and last night was their first chance to defend one of their own. You can expect more boos tonight when Cano is announced as a starter for the AL club and a massive ovation when their lone All-Star Butler makes his way onto the field.