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Bay Area Sports Beat: What You Need to Know Right Now

Take it all in, Yoenis. For a day, you get to be (home-run) king. (Image courtesy of the Associated Press) 

If the baseball-loving world had forgotten that the first-place Oakland A’s both existed and were extremely good, with one outlandish flip of the bat, Yoenis Céspedes reminded everyone that they’re still around and still flush with talent.

Although the A’s, currently winning the AL West, were horribly underrepresented in last week’s All-Star Game, Céspedes made sure what little representation Oakland had in New York did not go unnoticed. So on Monday night, he put on a show.

Céspedes etched his name in slugger history when he clobbered 32 home runs and won Monday night’s annual Home Run Derby at Citi Field.

His first-round performance was stuff of home-run legends, as his 17-blast effort was tied for third place in the competition’s history. In the final round, he only had to best Bryce Harper’s eight longballs. When his ninth and final 455-foot shot clinched the win, he turned and flipped his bat with the type of swagger that would make a hyphen-less Jay Z blush. (See the GIF here via Bleacher Report) 

“Oh man, he’s incredible,” Harper was quoted as saying in The San Francisco Chronicle. “He’s an absolute machine. … He’s so special. He’s an amazing talent.

“I came off the field and said, ‘That’s not enough.’ I thought maybe 12, but the way he was swinging the bat that first and second round, he wasn’t even trying, so it was pretty incredible to watch. He’s so strong. It’s incredible.”

His incredible performance in New York capped off what was already an incredible week for the Cuban sensation. He was recently reunited with his family and the story of their defection from Cuba was chronicled brilliantly by the Chronicle’s Susan Slusser.

It’s a must-read for any A’s fan. Hell, it’s a must-read for any human beings fan.

Back in action after the break, the A’s dropped the first two games of their three-game series in Anaheim against the Los Angeles Angels, but rebounded to club their geographically challenged rivals 6-0 on Sunday. They stand two and a half games in front of the Texas Rangers in the AL West with a 57-41 record.

Wondolowski looking good in USMNT threads

Chris Wondolowski, the prolific striker for the San Jose Earthquakes and Danville native, has wowed Quakes supporters and MLS fans for years, but has struggled to make enough of an impact to be on the radar of the US Men’s National Team with much regularity.

With United States coach Jürgen Klinsmann opting to leave many of the Yanks’ European-based stars off of their Gold Cup roster, the 30-year-old Wondolowski has seen added opportunities to impress the USMNT’s brass. So far, he’s passed the “test” with flying red, white and blue colors.

Although the striker didn’t play a prominent role in the USA’s 5-1 thrashing of El Salvador on Sunday to advance to the Cup’s semifinal round, the fact that Klinsmann selected Wondolowski to start and lead the American line showed the faith that he’s built in him.

After all, he did score an emphatic hat trick in the group stage during a 6-1 thrashing of Belize and added a brace for the Americans in their 4-1 triumph over Cuba.

One would think that Klinsmann will again opt for Wondolowski to lead the attack in Wednesday’s semifinal against the winner of Hondorus.

Swag welcome: @seanswaby