CHICAGO - Sammy Sosa and Ken Griffey weren't invited and Barry Bonds refused to participate, removing the electricity from last night's Home Run Derby.
At least all the power wasn't drained.
Though more subdued than in past years, the crowd cheered every ball that landed in the seats during the All-Star competition at U.S. Cellular Field.
They were loudest for St. Louis' Albert Pujols, who hit the two longest homers, but Anaheim's Garret Anderson defeated him, 9-8, in the final round to win the title.
Anderson, who will start for the American League tonight in place of injured Manny Ramirez, finished with 22 homers, four fewer than Pujols, who hit the base of the fence in left field with his last swing. His 26 homers tied Sosa's derby record. Anderson matched his season total.
"I don't think of myself as a home run hitter, but it was another platform to show America what I can do," Anderson said.
Pujols eliminated defending champion Jason Giambi, 14-11, in the semifinals while launching balls 478 and 454 feet. He also tied Giambi's record for most homers in one round with 14. Pujols has 27 this season and leads the majors with a .368 average.
Batting last in the eight-player field, Giambi supplied 12 of the 34 homers in the first round at a combined distance of 4,847 feet. He belted six in a row in the semifinals while down to his last two outs, throwing a scare into Pujols, who embraced him after Giambi lined the final pitch to right.
Carlos Delgado, who has 28 homers at the break, hit two last night and was eliminated early. Jim Edmonds, who also has 28 this season, hit four in the first round but advanced along with Anderson (seven) and Pujols (four). Anderson eliminated Edmonds, 6-4, in the semifinals.
Bret Boone was booed after going 0-for-10. So was Richie Sexson after going 1-for-10.
A reward and memorial
Manager Dusty Baker named Jason Schmidt, one of his former pitchers with the San Francisco Giants, as tonight's National League starter. Esteban Loaiza of the Chicago White Sox will start for the American League.
Schmidt's assignment is a reward that covers more than the games he has won.
A first-time All-Star, he took a bereavement leave from the Giants earlier this year after his mother, Vicki, died of cancer. Her death occurred three years after he underwent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff - at the time the most traumatic experience of his career.
"It's in memory for not only what he's done for me, but in memory of his mother," said Baker, who now manages the Chicago Cubs.
"I remember last year in spring training when Jason came into my office and told me his mother was sick at the time and he needed to go home. I was coming off my illness [prostate cancer] at the time, so we talked about it. We talked about a lot of things at that time. I've never been through it before, and I might be calling him some day for some tips on how to handle a death in the family."
Schmidt's first start after returning to the team came against the Cubs. "I could tell at that time that we would not have beaten Jason Schmidt under any circumstances," Baker said, "because he was pitching with a higher intensity and a higher power than I had ever seen before."
At DH, Barry Bonds
Bonds will serve as Baker's designated hitter, with Edmonds starting in center field.
Bonds, Pujols and Gary Sheffield were chosen as the NL's starting outfielders, but somebody had to fill the DH slot. Edmonds, a five-time Gold Glove recipient, was a natural choice to play in the field.
Asked if he had a difficult time convincing Bonds to be the DH, Baker grinned and said, "I'm not quite sure if he knows yet."
One vote for one Hall
Bonds went on a rant during the media session, barely stopping for air.
The Giants' slugger would like to use his tape-measure clout to bring together the Negro League Hall of Fame in Kansas City, Mo. - and the statistics of its players - and the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. N.Y.
"It should be one institution," he said.
Bonds challenged reporters to explain why they are kept separate.
"You can't answer that. You won't," he said. "The truth hurts."
For Delgado, half-full
With 97 RBIs at the break, Toronto's Delgado is putting together a season of historic proportions. But he dwells more on his occasional failures.
"I do it kind of the other way around," said Delgado, voted the AL's starting first baseman. "I look back at the at-bats when I should have done better and say, `What was I thinking?' I'm not a big numbers guy. For me, it's more about quality at-bats and trying to learn from what you did wrong and remember what you did right."
Rather than recite the distances of his longest home runs, including a few that slammed off the glass windows of the SkyDome's center-field restaurant, Delgado remembers how he didn't get a runner home from third base with one out during a game in Kansas City.
"I'm pretty hard on myself," he said. "I guess that's my motivation. That's how I push myself."
Mora swings through