HR Race Heats Up

This year, Home Run Derby is for real.

Mickey Mantle vs. Willie Mays, Hank Aaron vs. Harmon Killebrew and Rocky Colavito vs. Duke Snider made for great television in the 1950s.

Now, Cecil Fielder and Jose Canseco have revived the power show. And instead of playing for the cameras, they're playing for the crown.

Fielder leads with 42. He homered 51 times last year and is trying to become the first AL player to win consecutive titles since Jim Rice in 1977-78.

"I've never seen anything like him in all the years I've been in baseball," Detroit batting coach Vada Pinson said. "He's the best power hitter in a long time."


Canseco is second with 41 home runs. He predicts that swinging at the Oakland Coliseum, rather than slugging at Tiger Stadium, will cost him the championship.

Both players turned it on over the weekend.

Fielder hit a 520-foot homer Saturday night that was believed to be the first ball to clear Milwaukee's County Stadium.

Fielder homered again Sunday to stay one ahead of Canseco, who connected twice in Toronto. Canseco went 7-for-13 with three home runs, including a grand slam, and 10 RBIs in the three-game series.

"My first homer might have gone out in Oakland, but the second one would have been an easy out, warning track at best," Canseco said. "The SkyDome is definitely my favorite place to hit."

A lot more than the Coliseum, for sure. Enough so that Canseco is hinting that he might like to play somewhere else.

"Actually, the fans in Oakland are a lot more abusive towards me than they are in Toronto. I think a lot of fans really respect me in Toronto, it's always tougher to be booed at home," he said.

Up until this season, however, hitting in Oakland had not really hurt Canseco. He had averaged one home run per 16.5 at-bats at home and one per 15.6 at-bats on the road, not much of a difference.

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