I wasn't "in the stands" during the Home Run Derby, but I sure was rooting for Prince Fielder. What a show he put on! Since he had so many chances to swing the bat and hit the ball during the Derby, I was able to notice how Prince's form seldom varies. Each swing is smooth, perfectly timed, ideally arced. When he connects with the ball, the only thing missing is the sound of a cannon.
I confess -- I miss seeing him at Miller Park. I loved watching him whirl that huge bat as if it was a twig, clobbering the ball into orbit again and again. This season, I have seen only highlights of Fielder's at-bats, but I assume the American League pitchers enjoy pitching him inside as much as the National League guys always did. I suppose using Prince's body as a target now and then goes with the territory.
However, watching Prince's reaction when he gets hit by a pitch is like studying a volcano that hasn't yet spewed its molten red goo. His expression doesn't change as he deadeyes the pitcher, flips his bat behind him, removes his wrist strap and trots to first base. Of course, he never rubs where ball nailed him at a speed of 80, maybe 90 mph. His back and his shoulders must be a checkerboard of bruises.
Ryan, the Man
Ryan Braun is one classy guy. Last fall's announcement of his drug-test result was shocking, embarrassing, and a near disaster on several levels. Except for the obligatory boos in away games, that's behind him now. His batting average, his record in the field and as an All-Star should silence those who doubt his statistics.
Even more impressive is Braun's record as a teammate. Put a microphone in front of Ryan and he praises the other players, the management, the fans, the competition. During each interview, Braun says all the right stuff, expressing his gratitude for a chance to play the sport he loves.
I am proud to have him represent our team and our city.
Anne Stratton is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.