Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Home Run Derby 2014: Justin Morneau receives standing ovation

As a resident of the great state of Minnesota, and as the only Rockies fan that many Minnesotans know, I often hear about how much the Twins miss Michael Cuddyer and/or Justin Morneau.

With Cuddyer these sentiments are delivered with a hint of frustration directed towards the front office. The off-season before the 2012 season the Twins effectively let Cuddyer walk to the Rockies for a contract that they thought was an overpay (which it was). In turn they signed Josh Willingham for less money, a guy who looked worthy of a nickname like Josh Willingslam in a debut season in which he slashed .260/.366/.524, hit 35 home runs and delivered 100 RBI.

In 2013, however, Cuddyer shifted things back his way with a batting title while Willingham has struggled the last few seasons. Ever since then I have heard again and again from Twins fans they should have never let Cuddyer go, even with Cuddyer’s 2014 season effectively ruined by injuries. The point is simple: everybody loves Cuddy.

Everybody loves Morneau, too, but for different reasons. The impression I get from the Twins fans with whom I speak is that they wish Morneau had played better in his final years in Minnesota. They wish he had been able to produce in seasons that were ultimately lost to head and neck injuries.

I get the sense that they knew his time was up in Minnesota, even if his career as an effective player wasn’t done yet. In turn they are happy to see that he is playing well in Colorado, a sentiment that emerges free of any bitterness towards the player.

If I am reading these feelings right, they certainly came through on Monday night when Morneau received a standing ovation and was cheered wildly throughout the 2014 Home Run Derby.

Morneau’s showing in the derby was disappointing, as he hit only three home runs total and was eliminated. But with a moment like that with the hometown fans in Minneapolis, the number of homers he hit was ultimately insignificant. These Twins fans still appreciate him and all he meant to the franchise and he appreciates them back. It was great to see.

Tags: Colorado Rockies Home Run Derby Justin Morneau MLB All-Star Game

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