Editor’s Note: This post is by Brian Milne, founder of the BallHyped Sports News Service.

I got a kick out of the recent MLB Home Run Derby, not because my boy Robinson Cano won it, but because it reminded me of one of my crazier kayak missions.

That’s right, kayak missions.

The left-hand-swinging Cano hit most all of his 32 homers to right field, but in my one trip to the derby, right field saw almost no action at all. This, of course, was a bummer because the derby I attended was in 2007 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Well, technically, I didn’t “attend” the derby, but I was out there in McCovey Cove with all of those crazy kayakers.

It was like a frat party on water, only with plenty of security, helicopters and TV crews whizzing around like it was an Olympic event. And to the San Francisco Area, it was.

This was the Bay Area’s big moment to shine, to show a positive side of Bay Area baseball, which had been tarnished by the Killer Bees — the Bash Brothers, Bonds and BALCO.

Unfortunately for the Bay Area, and myself, the Home Run Derby wasn’t exactly a “splash.” Lefty sluggers actually had a disadvantage in the event, struggling mightily to clear the 24-foot red brick wall in right. And the 421-foot shot to the power alley, into the teeth of the Bay breeze? Fat chance.

In the end, there wasn’t a single “splash hit,” with the exception of a foul ball by Prince Fielder.

But in my eyes, the event was a hit. Make that a splash.

Kayaking across the Bay is an adventure in itself. The juxtaposition of one of the largest cities in the country, backed up against this beautiful body of water, made the paddle over to McCovey Cove surprisingly peaceful. It was eerily familiar to the final leg of my 100-mile kayak expedition along the SLO County coast, where ATVs and ORVs tore up the dunes and stunk up the ocean air with their exhaust.

But once I reached McCovey Cove, the peacefulness and remoteness fell overboard, and it was like taking a trip back to my college days when I spent a summer and a semester at San Francisco State before partying myself out and retreating back home to live the SLO Life.

Spending the derby in McCovey Cove was a blast, even without the splash hits, and reminded me just how passionate the San Francisco fans are about their teams. You saw it three years later, when the Giants won the World Series, but many of us had forgotten about the passion in that city.

I’d hate to see what would ever happen if the 49ers, Warriors and the Giants all had a good season in the same year. But I guess we don’t have to worry about that any time soon.

Below are some more media shots from the San Francisco Home Run Derby. If you’re into Where’s Waldo games, I’m in the yellow kayak with a red shirt and blue bucketcap — second ‘yak from the bottom in the last image, and in the middle of the scrum in the rest.

-Brian Milne

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