Derby Time

SAN FRANCISCO — The Home Run Derby participants are jogging in from center field as I type. Alex Rios will be swinging against Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder, Justin Morneau, Magglio Ordonez, Vlad Guerrero, Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday.

Earlier today, at a hotel downtown here, they held a press conference with all of the Derby participants. One of the first questions to the group was what the players thought about Barry Bonds not taking part in the event. After a long awkward bit of silence, Rios stepped up and spoke for the group.

"I think it’s a personal decision. So, if he didn’t want to do it, then it’s appropriate."

Props to Rios for ending the silence, even if it was just a general comment. Well, Willie McCovey just passed the bats to the eight sluggers and the kayaks are crowding the cove bearing his name.


Rios belted five homers in the first round, matching Holliday’s total for first place. That’s five times the HR total Troy Glaus put up in last year’s Derby. Before the game, Rios said of potentially passing Glaus’ one shot for some clubhouse bragging rights: "Yeah, I’d like to do that. That’d be fun."


Rios moved into sole possession of first place by launching 12 more homers, including five in a row with nine outs. He sent a few to center field, but stuck mainly with down the left-field line. Guerrero sent one 503 feet to left-center and nearly hit the huge baseball glove — unreal.


Rios hit only two homers in the final round against Guerrero, who walked away with the trophy. Rios said he started swinging too hard toward the end, instead of being more patient like he was in the first two rounds. He finished with a Derby-high 19 homers and his 12 in Round 2 were the highest in any round.


Congratulations to Alex Rios.

Phenomenal performance.

I for one have been relatively critical of Gibby in his handling of pitchers this year, particulary AJ Burnett.

However, on this next issue I’ve been on Gibby’s side from day one and today Gibby’s actions are justified.

Hillebrand was given his outright release today by The Angels, meaning in spite of the fact they put him on waivers and probably offered to pay a chunk of his salary, no other team jumped for his services.

The guy is a problem child, always has been and always will be. That’s now 3 teams in less than one year and I think 6 teams in like 4 years.

Gibby was right on how he treated this guy, and today is proof in the pudding.

Looks good on you Gibby and cuddles to JP for getting Accardo out of this mess.

Another thing that ought to be credited to Gibbons is that he managed to get far more out of an unhappy Hillenbrand than others seem to be capable of. That he was able to do that, and still pull the plug demonstrates if not a calculated genius, at least an innate capacity for clubhouse management.

I just want say Congatulations to Alex Rios on his awesome job at the Home Run Derby. In My eyes he won. How stupid was that to start over in the third round. He hit 19 all together better than anyone! I think he should have got the award.

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