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Howard out -- Cove may go untouched

SAN FRANCISCO -- This Home Run Derby has officially become a dud. Defending champion Ryan Howard didn't even make the semifinals and the folks in their little inflatable rafts in McCovey Cove may as well go home.

With Howard gone, there are no left-handed hitters left for the semifinals. No right-hander has ever put a ball into the Cove so that part of the intrigue is gone. Howard finished with just three home runs -- making seven outs before finally going deep. His third shot, however, was a 477-footer to dead center that was the longest of the first round.

There was a five-swing playoff between Minnesota's Justin Morneau and St. Louis' Albert Pujols for the final spot of the semifinals and Pujols won it with two home runs. Morneau hit just one.

So the semifinalists are Pujols (four homers), Matt Holliday, Alex Rios and Vladimir Guerrero (five each). The numbers carry over to the second round and players still get 10 outs.

Gotta believe ESPN is sick about this one. For those of you at home, it probably means less air time for Kenny Mayne's foolishness and that's a good thing.

---Mike Harrington

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