x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Robinson Cano wins Home Run Derby as fan safety is again questioned

A fan has a lucky escape in Phoenix trying to catch a ball, just a week after a Rangers fan fell to his death.

Kevin Carmickle is stopped by brother from plunging six metres to the floor after trying to catch a Prince Fielder homer at the Home Run Derby in Phoenix.
Kevin Carmickle is stopped by brother from plunging six metres to the floor after trying to catch a Prince Fielder homer at the Home Run Derby in Phoenix.

PHOENIX, ARIZONA // Robinson Cano thought about hitting the Miller Lite sign, a 144 metre drive off an advertisement a good 15m or more above and well behind the swimming pool at Chase Field.

"That was my favourite one I'm going to have that in my mind for the next two or three weeks. I wonder how far could it be, that in New York?" he said. "I got power."

In another Yankees-Red Sox showdown, Cano outslugged Adrian Gonzalez 12-11 in the final round of the All-Star Home Run Derby, even through his Boston rival made the biggest splash at Chase Field.

Batting last and being pitched to by his father, the former Houston Astros pitcher Jose Cano, the New York second baseman batted second in the final round. Each hit 20 home runs through two rounds.

"As a kid, you dream to be up here with a bunch of guys that you watched back in the day, like Sosa, Griffey, McGwire, Giambi, how much fun they have," Robinson Cano said.

Again highlighting the dangers of trying to catch a ball at a big league ballpark, a fan standing on a table above the pool deck, Keith Carmickle, fell over trying to catch a Prince Fielder homer. The fan was grabbed by his brother before going all the way over, where he could have fallen about six metres. Carmickle was dangling when he was pulled back up.

"I stepped up on the table, I missed the ball by 2 or 3 feet and went over," he said. "We caught three balls and I told the guys I was going to go for the cycle. Dude, they were really holding onto me."

Last week, a 39-year-old fan, Shannon Stone, died while trying to catch a ball thrown into the stands at a Texas Rangers game in Arlington.

Carmickle's brother grabbed his arms and Aaron Nelson held his legs.

"He wasn't going down, I was holding on," Nelson said.

Carmickle said he was not worried while he was dangling.

"I bench-press 500lbs [227kg], and I wasn't going down," he said.

The Carmickles and Nelson gathered themselves after the near fall and let out a few shouts before breaking into high-fives. They relived the moment with a few of the fans around them, then again as they looked at photos taken by an Arizona Republic photographer, who had shots from behind of Carmickle on the table, then falling.

Fielder didn't notice the close call and continued his turn in the derby. "I didn't see it," he said. "We don't need any of that."

With commercial breaks and other interruptions, the derby has become a three-hour affair that's so slow a regular-season game seems like an Olympic downhill ski race. Before a crowd of 44,820 on the night before the All-Star game, Major League Baseball said Cano set a final-round record.

Matt Thomas of Peoria, Arizona, caught Matt Holliday's second gold ball, hit deep into the left-field lower deck. The ball, with one panel infused with 24-carat gold leather, has a retail value of US$150 (Dh550). Players were thrown gold balls when they had one out left.

"It just came right at me, and I reached up and grabbed, I played a little trick like I didn't have it," he said, making a tucking motion with his glove, "then went, oh, here it is. It's pretty cool."

Gonzalez and Cano were the most impressive hitters throughout, and they eliminated the defending champion David Ortiz of the Red Sox and Milwaukee's Fielder (nine apiece) in the second round. St Louis' Holliday (five), Toronto's Jose Bautista (four), Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks (three) and the Dodgers' Matt Kemp (two) did not get past the opening round.

Jose Cano was 1-1 with a 5.09 ERA in three starts and three relief appearances in 1989 - his only major league action.

"When he called me at home, that he wanted me to come to the United States because he's going to be in the Home Run Derby, I said, `I'll be happy to pitch to you, because that's what I do at home,"' Jose Cano said.

Weeks was booed by fans, upset he was picked for the derby over Arizona's Justin Upton. Fielder, who chose his derby teammates, was greeted with the loudest boos. He wound up in a tiebreaker to advance from the first round and went 5 for 5, including a 138m drive off the ballpark's back wall. He had the longest drive of the night at 144.5m and also hit a ball onto the pool deck area.

When Ortiz was down to his last out, stadium announcer Daron Sutton - son of Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton - urged him on by shouting, "Just picture Kevin Gregg on the mound," referring to last week's fight between the two. Ortiz, the defending champion, also advanced with the tiebreaker, eliminating Holliday.

For each homer with a gold ball, Major League Baseball and State Farm Insurance combined to donate US$18,000 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. State Farm contributed US$603,000 to charities as a result of the derby.