I have a 15-year-old nephew who loves the Home Run Derby but doesn't care all that much about the actual All-Star Game. That seems a little blasphemous to those of us of a certain age who grew up hating Pete Rose and Steve Garvey and all of those National League punks.
It's easy to be a little cynical about the Home Run Derby, but remember that the kids like it and in the end it's not all that different from the All-Star Game -- it's a vehicle to publicize the sport. (Except the Home Run Derby won't potentially be decided by Brett Cecil pitching to Marco Scutaro.)
This year's combatants -- Robinson Cano, defending champ Prince Fielder, Chris Davis and a to-be-determined slugger in the American League; David Wright, Carlos Gonzalez, Bryce Harper and Michael Cuddyer in the National League -- is a pretty entertaining group.
I'm glad Davis and his MLB-leading 33 home runs and Harper are in it. They are the two guys on the All-Star rosters I'd most want to see in this event. You can argue that Harper doesn't even deserve to be in the game because he was out for several weeks on the disabled list with a knee injury, but don't tell me you're not more likely to watch it now -- especially if you're 15. (And with the right-field overhang at Citi Field, you can expect these two left-handed hitters to put a lot of balls in the upper deck out there.)
As for the final AL participant, team captain Cano says he is still working on it. I think Miguel Cabrera is the guy we all want to see, although Jose Bautista would be a solid alternative. Unfortunately, my dream of seeing Ichiro Suzuki in a Home Run Derby isn't going to happen.
The one odd choice is Cuddyer, who isn't a big name and not among the NL home run leaders. Plus, with Gonzalez, that's two Rockies, and you would think you'd want more teams represented. But as Wright, the NL captain, said on "SportsCenter," he grew up near Cuddyer in Chesapeake, Va., and admitted that this was a bit of a buddy pick.
MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt would have been a better choice, or Phillies breakout outfielder Domonic Brown, but I would have gone with Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who has 22 home runs and as much raw power as anyone around. He would have been a fun guy to watch.
But the New York crowd will get to cheer on Wright and boo Cano, and the rest of us can enjoy Davis and Harper.