On the dais next to me are eight players, a couple of young men, as well, who will participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby tonight. For the second year in a row, we have captains for the National and American League squads. The American League team is led by the defending State Farm Home Run Derby champion, that of course is Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees. The National League is led by the 2011 National League home run leader, Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Robinson and Matt determined their teams and personally invited each player to participate. From the Tigers, who was last year's National League captain, Prince Fielder and from the Angels of Los Angeles is Mark Trumbo, and Jose Bautista from the Toronto Blue Jays.
We also have Carlos Beltrán from the Cardinals and Carlos Gonzalez from the Rockies and from the Pirates Andrew McCutchen.
State Farm and Major League Baseball will once again donate a significant amount of money for charity throughout the event and this year the donations will be as follows: $150,000 will be awarded to the winning captain's charity in his name, $100,000 awarded to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in the name of the winning captain; $25,000 awarded to the charity of the captain of the losing team in his name; and the remainder donated to Boys & Girls Clubs of America on behalf of State Farm and Major League Baseball.
Tonight's State Farm Home Run Derby will also feature the popular Gold Ball charitable platform. State Farm and Major League Baseball will combine to donate $18,000 for ever home run hit with a Gold Ball during the competition. The dollar figure was selected to coincide with a number of State Farm agents throughout the United States and Canada. State Farm will also give $3,000 to Boys and Girls Clubs of America for every non Gold Ball hit during the Derby.
State Farm once again joins Major League Baseball in this event to raise money for a good cause, but there's more, and here to talk about it is Justin Reckamp, Marketing, National Sponsorships for State Farm.
JUSTIN RECKAMP: We are proud to be part of such a great event. In partnership with Major League Baseball, tonight is all about going to bat for great causes, including the Boys & Girls Club of America. State Farm is honored to give back with every home run hit tonight, as Karl mentioned, for each Gold Ball home run hit, State Farm and Major League Baseball collectively will donate $18,000, and to ensure that every home run hit makes an impact, State Farm will donate $3,000 for every non Gold Ball home run.
But beyond the donation amounts themselves, what State Farm is very excited and proud about is the impact that those donations have made and will continue to make in getting charities, kids, and communities to a better state.
We have seen past Home Run Derby donations help renovate Boys & Girls Club locations, build educational programming and enhance student learning centers and this is what makes the State Farm Home Run Derby truly remarkable.
And for the fans at home, to further our commitment to giving back, State Farm is proud to announce the Go to Bat Program, which allows fans to go to bat for a charity of their choice and help raise funds for that charity and by doing so, they will be entered to win a trip to the 2012 World Series where they will be honored on the field.
State Farm would like to thank the contestants and competitors up here today. They are utilizing their time and talents, not only to put on a great show for millions of fans, but also to generate funds for charities that will leave a lasting impression for years to come. Thank you, and good luck.
KARL RAVECH: Thank you, Justin.
Before we continue, I think it's important that those of you out in the audience and those watching on television get a chance to see that the Gold Ball concept has been taken a little further by Matt Kemp. Just for one second, I want Matt to stand up and walk to the end of that stage; rather than a Gold Ball, Matt decided to wear gold sneakers today. David Ortiz brought a lot of bling last year, and you brought the gold. Thank you, Matt.
Also teaming up to support local area Boys & Girls Clubs of America, we have eight youngsters from eight clubs in Kansas city and we will be pairing them up with a player in tonight's Home Run Derby. The one whose player wins the Derby will receive a $50,000 donation towards a teen center at his or her club, compliments of State Farm.
I want to introduce the youngsters to reveal who they are paired with this evening. When I call your name, and they are all here in red shirts, I want you to stand next to your partner, and I would like you to greet them and then stand right behind them.
The first one is Krista Primers of Wyandotte City Unit of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City. You will be paired with Mark Trumbo.
Axton Boochta from Fort Leavenworth Child and Youth Services will be paired with Prince Fielder.
Phil Dixon of the Wagner Unit Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City is paired with Jose Bautista.
David Blaurelt of the Leslie Unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City is paired with Robinson Cano.
Raven House of the Thornberry Unit of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City is paired with Matt Kemp.
Bryce Page of the Teen Center Clubhouse of Boys & Girls Clubs of Lawrence is paired with Carlos Beltrán.
A'liyah Rogers of the Teen Center Clubhouse of Boys & Girls Clubs is paired with Carlos Gonzalez.
Chris Young of the Adams Unit of Boys & Girls Clubs of Topeka is paired with Andrew McCutchen.
For the second consecutive year, players during the Derby tonight will be using social media live from the field. Players can Tweet from the field as well as upload video they shoot during the event and for those players not on Twitter, there will be tables set up on the field where they can interact with fans via official Major League Baseball accounts. Fans can follow along by searching the hashtag, #HomeRunDerby.
You are the Twitter King, correct?
MATT KEMP: No.
KARL RAVECH: Today you're the "Gold Shoe King."
I want to invite our captains to reveal their charity as well as the order their team will hit in the first round.
ROBINSON CANO: Well, my charity is going to help kids in the Dominican and New York to get started and playing sports and also help kids that really needs help. Hopefully it will come our way tonight.
KARL RAVECH: Thank you very much. And Matt, your charity is?
MATT KEMP: My charity is called the Dream Center. It's located in Los Angeles close to Dodger Stadium. It's a place that is aiding and empowering the less fortunate in Los Angeles and making a difference for the community. You know, they help over 40,000 people a week with feeding them and putting them up in places and it's just an organization that touched me and I wanted to give back to them.
KARL RAVECH: Over $600,000 donated to charities last year.
Q. Carlos, you're coming back to Kansas City; do you have any home field advantage for the Home Run Derby?
CARLOS BELTRAN: Well, first of all, I'm just happy to be here. Matt gave me the invitation to be part of the Home Run Derby, and being able to be here in Kansas City really means a lot, because this was a series that I played here for six years and a half. I'm happy to be back.
About home field advantage, you never know anything until you step into the batter's box, and hopefully the swing is right. So I'm just going to go out there, have fun, enjoy my time, and have a good time.
Q. Jose and Prince, wondering what it was like to see the performance at the end, whether that ranks among the more impressive performances you've ever seen.
JOSE BAUTISTA: From Robinson? I think it also meant a lot that he had his dad pitching to him. That was something that was great to see and something a lot of people don't get to enjoy.
I get to see Robinson's swing every other week or so; we play the Yankees it feels like every other week. I know what he can do on an everyday basis, and getting to enjoy him hitting the home runs in the Derby was different, but impressive, as well.
PRINCE FIELDER: The fact that his dad was there, that's what stood out for me and when he won, he jumped on his dad, that was pretty cool.
KARL RAVECH: Is your dad coming back, and how much arm twisting did it take if he is?
ROBINSON CANO: Oh, he's back. Yeah, he's back. He said he can't wait. So hopefully he will throw a lot of strikes tonight again.
Q. What does it mean to represent the country of Venezuela here in the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game?
CARLOS GONZALEZ: For me, it's a great opportunity, and it's my first time coming here for an All-Star Game. You know, having the opportunity to represent the National League and the Rockies organization and Venezuela, is something very special. I'm ready to enjoy it, and just go out there on the field and do the things that we always do and we always dream since we were little kids.
Q. You got a lot of people excited in Kansas City about a month and a half ago when you said it would be the right thing to do to take a Royal if they made the All-Star Team, and Billy Butler made it; what do you expect from Royals fans and the decision to not take a Royals player?
ROBINSON CANO: The first thing I said that, yes, anyone that made the All-Star Team. But I get to pick the team before they announce the team.
Like I said, don't get me wrong, I like Billy, great season, but it was a tough decision for me. You know these guys, like you have Adam Dunn, it was a tough one. It's like the team, sometimes you're going to make decisions that are going to be the right one but not always going to be the right one.
Q. Along those lines, did you get a chance to talk to Josh Hamilton about doing this?
ROBINSON CANO: No, because I hear he said he's not going to do it this year. So I don't want to even ask him. (Laughter.)
Q. Just want to find out what the talk amongst Major League players is about the hardware he won last year, what that carries amongst players themselves.
KARL RAVECH: What does it mean to win a Home Run Derby? What do you think it means to win?
ANDREW McCUTCHEN: I think it means a lot for us all. I think just being here is saying a lot.
It's a big honor just to even be up here. So winning is just even more. It would mean a heck of a lot for me, but I'm just happy that I get the opportunity to even be out here and be amongst these other guys that are going to be hitting some mammoth home runs. Looking forward to it.
KARL RAVECH: How about you, Prince? What's it like to win a Home Run Derby?
PRINCE FIELDER: It was awesome. You've got these two behind me jumping up and down. It's just cool having your family out there, just seeing how it's just a good feeling, you know, especially when your family is here.
KARL RAVECH: How about you, just anticipating competing in the event?
MARK TRUMBO: I feel honored with the other guys I'm sitting up here with. It's pretty surreal for me. I couldn't be happier.
Q. There are banners around the league saying the National League is going to win and the American League is going to win; why is the National League better than the American League?
MATT KEMP: I'm very confident in the team I've picked. These guys have done an amazing job this year, and over here on the other side, too, they have done an amazing job. I think it's going to be a battle. We have got some guys over there that can hit some long home runs and we have got some guys over here, but I have faith in this team and I feel like we are going to win this year.
Q. Sometimes you hear players who have participated in the Home Run Derby alter their approach to the plate after having participated; is that something of a concern to you, and how does it feel to be in this event?
CARLOS GONZALEZ: Like I said, we are going to jump on the field and you know, just try to put a good show up for the fans. Of course, we are all trying to hit a home run, but at the end of the day, we all are going to come back tomorrow to play a game, and you know, we have just got to do the routine that we always do during BP. You know, I'm not even concerned about that. Just take my swings, and you know, enjoy the show with my guys here.
Q. Mark and Jose, you might have hit some of the most impressive home runs in distance. Jose what did you learn last year from being in it, and Mark, you have C.J. Wilson, will it be nice having a teammate documenting the contest for you?
JOSE BAUTISTA: For me it's about getting into a good rhythm and feeling in sync. If I can get into a good rhythm, I can hit them out and hopefully I can shoot a good show out there.
MARK TRUMBO: C.J., he's really tech savvy, so it will be cool to look back down the road and to look back and see some of the stuff.
Q. Can you talk about how important it is to wear the "C" on your chest and the responsibility that comes with that?
MATT KEMP: I'm proud to be the captain of this team. I just want to go out there and represent the Dodgers and represent the National League, and when they gave me the opportunity to become captain, I was happy.
For me, it's a very special moment. I did it last year and I didn't do too well. It was my first time. But this year I come to hit more home runs and do better. It's a special moment for me and my family, so we're having a great time.
Q. Can you talk about hitting home runs in Kauffman Stadium, and can you help but aim for a splash landing tonight? Those fountains must look pretty tempting.
JOSE BAUTISTA: I think just like any other stadium in the big leagues, if you hit a good one, it should go.
It is a bigger yard, and I hope to make a splash. Hopefully I hit a couple that land in the fountain out there, but I will be aiming for left field, that's for sure. I won't be trying to hit any to right field.
MATT KEMP: I've actually never played here so I don't even know what the stadium looks like inside so here in the next couple of hours, I'll get to check it out and look at the dimensions and take BP and see how I feel.
KARL RAVECH: It's very pretty.
MATT KEMP: From the outside it looks really nice. I'm excited.
Q. Wondering about the decision to go with Trumbo. I understand Albert Pujols pushed you in that direction.
ROBINSON CANO: I got a chance to see him hitting BP when we faced them at their place. I came early to talk to Pujols, and I said, I've got to pick this guy, he's going to help me to win (laughter).
Q. I'm sure you're extra excited given the time away and to be back in this setting; are you feeling good, and where did you get those shoes?
MATT KEMP: I feel really great. I just got finished doing my last rehab stint in Albuquerque and my legs feel good and ready to get back into the field. I've been feeling like a cheerleader the last month and a half. It's good to be around these guys.
Where did I get these shoes from? This is an L.A. thing. These are Christian Louboutins. I got them at the store, Barney's.
Q. Jose, first of all, the experience of last year, how can it help for this year? Do you have the energy to win this year?
JOSE BAUTISTA: I'm just going to try to be as patient as I can be. I think last year I was swinging at too many pitches consecutively when maybe I was not feeling the groove yet. So I'm hoping that helps me out.
ROBINSON CANO: At 5:00 in the morning, I didn't get much sleep, but I'm not going to put negative things in my mind. I'm just going to go out there and have fun and spend time with guys on those teams and just have fun.
KARL RAVECH: Are you tired?
ROBINSON CANO: A little bit (laughing).
Q. Just wanted to ask you guys who have done it before, how much does it take out of you physically having to swing that hard for so long?
JOSE BAUTISTA: I don't think I'm the right guy to answer this. I just hit four, and only in the first round. So I'll pass it on to somebody else. (Laughter.)
PRINCE FIELDER: All right, well, you know, I was a little sore after. You're a little sore sometimes. But it's fun. I don't know, it's not -- it's nothing that you should -- it doesn't hurt you too bad. It doesn't. How about you?
KARL RAVECH: How about you, you're tired going into this thing.
ROBINSON CANO: A little bit. But like I said, I'm not going to put negative things in my mind. But at the moment, you don't feel tired, but the next day, you feel a little bit sore.
All this is about is just to have fun with the guys, see their kids around and cheering and say, wow, that's a home run. Those are the things you enjoy.
The next day, that's when you feel a little bit tired.
Q. Did you approach Ryan Braun?
MATT KEMP: I heard that he didn't want to participate in it, either, so I didn't want to reach out to him. That's basically what it was.
KARL RAVECH: Tune into the State Farm Home Run Derby on 8:00, ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio, 7:00 Central time. On behalf of Major League Baseball and State Farm, thank you for attending.