Commissioner open to change in Derby selection
Hometown provision to be given serious consideration for next season
KANSAS CITY -- Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig suggested Tuesday that a change in the selection process for participants for the State Farm Home Run Derby will be given serious consideration.
Selig's comments came after the second straight Derby in which vociferous booing was directed at one of the Derby participants. Last year in Phoenix, then-Brewer Prince Fielder, the captain of the 2011 National League Derby team, was booed for not picking a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks (in this case, Justin Upton).
On Monday night, Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, the American League Derby captain, was booed loudly and incessantly because he had not chosen Billy Butler of the hometown Royals as one of the contestants. The Kauffman Stadium crowd also cheered loudly whenever Cano was unable to hit a homer in the Derby. Cano finished with zero home runs.
The booing did not sit well with the Commissioner, whose comments came during an appearance before a meeting of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. It was the 10th consecutive year that Selig appeared at a meeting of the BBWAA to address the state of the game.
"I felt badly [Monday] night, I will say that to you," Selig said. "Robinson Cano certainly picked people that he thought should be on it, as Prince did last year, as [2012 NL captain] Matt Kemp did this year.
"I understand hometown loyalty, I'm sympathetic to that. But this was tough. The other side of the coin is that since we've gone to captains picking guys, we get everybody that we want and it's really made for an interesting [situation] because the players do it themselves. We'll talk about this. While I understand Kansas City and the whole Billy Butler thing, I really felt badly. I felt badly in Phoenix for Prince."
The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at the Mets' home, Citi Field. If there was booing in Phoenix and Kansas City, think of the potential in New York.
"It won't be any worse than it was [Monday] night," Selig said. "You can only boo so loud. But we'll think about [a change in the selection format]. Robbie Cano did his job. He picked the guys that he thought were the best. And that's what you're supposed to do."
The simple answer to this problem, and the possibility that Selig referred to, is creating a situation that allows for one participant to be a "hometown" All-Star. Next year, for instance, with the Mets hosting the All-Star Game, one participant would need to be David Wright or some other worthy Met.
Michael Weiner, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, also weighed in on the booing of Cano.
"I think it was unfortunate," Weiner said. "As you know, the Home Run Derby is not mandatory; being a captain of one of the Home Run Derby teams is not mandatory. I do not think that anybody could really quarrel with the three teammates that Robinson picked [Fielder, Jose Bautista and Mark Trumbo]. They turned out to have the three most home runs of anyone who participated in the Derby, for those of you who actually pay attention to the results.
"Billy Butler is a great player, and Billy Butler would have been a fine choice, as well. But [the booing] is unfortunate. Robbie understands, all players understand, that the fans pay their money and they have a right to voice their opinion. It struck me that it moved past traditional, good-natured booing, particularly for an event like that."
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.