Robinson Cano pondered the question for a second, maybe two.
"Besides the game, yeah," Cano said in a clubhouse interview this week, asked if he enjoyed his All-Star experience last season in Kansas City.
He smiled. "Yeah, besides that, it was fun," he said, stressing that "hanging out and talking" with friends from other teams made the trip worthwhile.
Still . . .
This was the equivalent of a passenger from the cruise ship Triumph last February saying, "Besides being stranded at sea with no power, no air conditioning and no working plumbing, what a vacation!"
Needless to say, Cano, making his fifth All-Star appearance and fourth straight as the fans' preference as starter at second base, is looking forward to writing a new Midsummer Classic chapter for himself after last year's game when Cano, by far, was the least popular All-Star. The Kauffman Stadium crowd relentlessly booed the Yankees star from the time he showed up Monday for the Home Run Derby.
All of the reaction was because of a slight, the fans felt, to one of their own. Weeks before the competition, Cano had hinted he might select hometown hero Billy Butler for the competition but did not. His selections were hard to criticize as he went with Jose Bautista (27 homers at the time), Mark Trumbo (22) and Prince Fielder, whose 15 blasts trailed Butler's 16 but he was the 2009 champ and went on to win last year, too.
Cano was booed two hours before the competition started when he was showed on the stadium big screen for a pre-event interview, throughout the contest when the defending Derby champion failed to hit even one homer, and again the following day before and during the game. Cano's family was even harassed, something he remains irritated by.
"When my family went to the restroom, they [fans] were saying stuff," said Cano, who again will have his father, Jose, throw to him during the Derby tomorrow night at Citi Field. "They can do anything to us on the field but not your family."
He acknowledged that this year likely shapes up as a much more positive experience. "Even if it's not here , it's in New York," Cano said. "You're going to be in front of your home crowd, the greatest fans in the world . . . You can go up there and try and put on a show for the fans."
Which he didn't do last year, going 0-for-10 -- the only one of eight competitors to go without a homer and then, only then, drawing cheers from the crowd. Cano admitted to being embarrassed. "It was hard," he said. "You want to put on a good show and I didn't do that."
Cano, a free agent after this season, has done that much of 2013, despite the lack of offense around him.
Entering yesterday, the 30-year-old led the Yankees in average (.301), OBP (.385), slugging (.535), homers (21), RBIs (63), hits (104) and runs (53).
Even those who have watched the smooth-swinging Cano for years have come away impressed, especially given, with the light-hitting lineup around him, he's seeing fewer quality pitches than ever. "It's unusual to have a guy with that kind of power be able to cover that much of the plate," said Ichiro Suzuki, who set an MLB record with 10 straight 200-hit seasons (2001-10).
Andy Pettitte expressed his admiration more as a fan would. "What a talent he is," the 41-year-old lefthander said. "It's fun to watch him hit."
Cano figures to have far more fun doing that this All-Star week than last.