|SEATTLE -- Hey Barry, Luis Gonzalez is baseball's home run
king, at least for this week.
Gonzalez, who has crept up behind Barry Bonds in the race to
break Mark McGwire's record, beat Sammy Sosa 6-2 in the finals
Monday night to win the All-Star Home Run Derby.
"I was kind of in a fog, especially considering the guys I was
going against the last couple of rounds," said a wide-eyed
Gonzalez. "I was so nervous in my first Home Run Derby. I just
wanted to get past the first round, then the second round, I was
Bonds was knocked out in the semifinals, and Alex Rodriguez
didn't even make it out of the first round at Safeco Field, known
more for pitching than bashing.
Bonds, whose 39 homers for San Francisco set a record at the
All-Star break, hit the longest drive of the day -- a 476-foot drive
that a fan dropped out of the first row of the right field upper
deck. He also had a 472-foot shot among his seven in the first
Oakland's Jason Giambi put on the best show, hitting a Home Run
Derby-record 14 in the first round before he was knocked out 8-6 by
Sosa in the semifinals.
"I was honored to be in it," Giambi said, adding that it
"gets the heart pumping."
|Jason Giambi connects for 14 HRs during the first round.|
Gonzalez, who brought along Arizona bullpen catcher Jeff Motuzas
to hit against, watched Giambi and concluded he had no shot.
"I was thinking that trophy had his name on it," Gonzalez
But Gonzalez, who with his 35 homers for Arizona this season has
played the tortoise to Bonds' hare, showed that steady can succeed,
too, hitting five homers in the first round, then beating Bonds 5-3
in the semifinals.
Bonds played down the competition to reach the season record set
in 1998, when Mark McGwire outhomered Sosa 70-66 as they both
topped Roger Maris' previous mark of 61, set in 1961.
"Mark had Sammy pushing him," Bonds said. "Me and Gonzo -- what the hell are we doing? There's no fight."
And Gonzalez said there's no pressure on him. Arizona leads the
National League West by 3½ games while Bonds' Giants are 5½ games back.
"It has not been a distraction to our ballclub, what I've been
doing in the first half," Gonzalez said. "I'd just assume keep it
that way. Hopefully, the thing it won't do is hinder our
Gonzalez ranked his Derby victory above his 30-game hitting streak
and hitting for the cycle.
"You are out here among your peers," he said. "The whole
world is watching and this is actually where you get recognition
for doing something like this."
The Derby was somewhat lacking in drama. Unlike Baltimore's
Camden Yards, which had the right-field warehouse, and Boston's
Fenway Park, with its left field Green Monster, Safeco has no
internal landmarks, and no one came close to putting one out of the
And unlike Denver's Coors Field, where McGwire hit one 510 feet
three years ago in the thin mountain air, no one came close to the
On a cloudless afternoon, with 46,733 in the stands, Rodriguez
saw a lot more dollar bills than home runs. Rodriguez, wearing
large sunglasses that rested on the bill of his cap, was given a
large ovation when he walked to the plate.
Fans repeatedly threw confetti of phony dollars, a taunt for the
record $252 million, 10-year contract he got when he left Seattle
to sign with Texas last December.
Using the bat of former Seattle teammate Edgar Martinez, he
connected just twice, at 415 and 364 feet.
Rodriguez took some solace from the cheers that were mixed in
with some boos.
"I couldn't believe the ovation I got. It was very nice. I'm
flattered. You obviously want to put up a big showing," he said.
"I was at ease coming in. I didn't want booing to be part of this
"I was expecting the worst. That was very nice. It means a lot.
I spent a long time here. It was a big slice of my life, six or
Seattle's Bret Boone had just three homers and Colorado's Todd
Helton had two. Anaheim's Troy Glaus had a rare Home Run Derby
Thomas Knepp of Potters Mills, Pa., won $250,000 toward a new
house as part of a promotion that went along with Gonzalez's Derby
"Don't know him at all, to tell you the truth," Knepp said.
Shot back Gonzalez:"Neither did a lot of people, I guess."
was kind of in a fog, especially considering the
guys I was going against the last couple of rounds.
I was so nervous in my first Home Run Derby. I
just wanted to get past the first round, then the
second round, I was thinking,
||— Luis Gonzalez, winner of the Home Run Derby