Robinson Cano, Home Run King

Cano outlasts a pair of Red Sox to take the crown.

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Dad deserves a hug after the beating his pitches took on Monday night.

    The Home Run Derby is one of the odder annual sporting events.

    It is a celebration of something you can watch almost every single day of the baseball season, although most people usually choose not to watch it because it isn't particularly exciting to watch baseball players crush slow fastballs into the ether.

    It takes an insane amount of time to complete the contest and the whole thing is brought to you by an announcing team that everybody hates listening to for more than five seconds.

    And yet you wind up watching it every year because baseball has the good sense to schedule it on a night when there is not any competition on the sporting landscape. If you want to watch people in uniforms doing something athletic on a Monday night in July, your choices are finding a local Little League game or the Derby.

    The Derby usually wins, even if it makes you long for watching NBA players miss dunks during their own All-Star snoozefest.

    So plenty of people were watching Monday night when Robinson Cano crushed pitch after pitch from his father and won the 2011 Home Run Derby. He beat out Adrian Gonzalez of the Red Sox 12-11 in the final round, although his final total could have been much higher if he didn't stop after sealing the victory.

    It was an impressive performance, but not particularly surprising to anyone who has watched Cano take BP at some point in his career. He's got an easy swing that takes very little effort, which means he isn't going to tire himself out while launching 450-foot bomb after 450-foot bomb into the Arizona night. 

    None of the other contestants was hitting the ball as far as Cano on Monday night and, in a first for the contest, Cano actually found a way to make the event compelling. By bringing his father Jose, a former big league pitcher, to pitch to him, Cano set in motion two side events that were more interesting than the Derby itself.

    The first was whether his dad's right arm would be up to the task of pitching to both his son and David Ortiz over the course of the evening. We'll assume that he made good use of the ice machine at the hotel, but Jose Cano made it through the evening with his right arm still attached to his body.

    The other, even more intriguing, mystery was whether or not Jose Cano would ever crack a smile during the course of the event. The man redefined stoicism on the mound, but he finally broke down and showed a little joy when his son was crowned the winner.

    That led to a nice father-son moment and a nice big trophy for the younger Cano to put in a closet somewhere. The second worst sports night of the year (Wednesday is worse as there isn't even this time-waster to watch) was finally over, never to be spoken of again.

    Unless, of course, we're back here in a month discussing whether the Home Run Derby messed with Cano's swing. It's doubtful -- again, this is what he does every day -- but let's hope that Gonzalez and Ortiz aren't quite so lucky.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.