Home Run Derby 2011 Thoughts

The last several years I’ve said I’ve been bored with the Home Run Derby. There’s been several things that I’ve rolled my eyes at over the last few years. Interview with actors in the dugouts, Berman’s “back back back” needs to go, the interviews with the players instantly after they’re done (What were you thinking?).. I had pretty much given up on it.
However, this year, given I don’t have Cable TV anymore, I found myself wanting to see it, mostly because I didn’t have the access anymore. One of those “don’t know what you have until it’s gone” kind of things. Then at the last minute, I realized I would be able to see it. The MLB 11 App for the iPad had a full stream of the HR Derby. Technically it was an mlb.com video stream, and not ESPN stream, but I was rather enjoyed I still got to watch it. So I sat in a chair in the house I don’t normally sit in, and watched the HR derby on my iPad. To quote Steve Jobs, it was “magical”. (not really, I’m just being silly).
Anyway, a lot of the stuff I disliked has been removed. Stupid interviews with hangers on weren’t there, and the interviews with the players after their rounds were gone. So that was good. Berman was there, but I did get a laugh out of him, because his mike wasn’t closed during the pre-ceremony band playing. He said something like “I don’t want to say what I want to, because it could go out in the stadium”. No, it didn’t Rick, but it DID go out on TV. Or at least the live streaming feed. :)
I do have to admit, I didn’t like the players taking their kids up to the plate with them for the introductions. That’s a bad precedent, I wonder where one of them will take it. Bring their entire entourage up there with them? I instantly thought of Dusty Baker’s kid again, thinking “what’s he doing there?”
So OK, we have a new twist this year. Instead of MLB picking the 8 contestants, they picked two “captains”, and they picked the players. It’s an interesting idea. Once the swings get started, that captains & teams concept is pretty much out the window. But I do like the idea insofar as the picking of the players. The players in the derby were:
Robinson Cano
Adrian Gonzalez
David Ortiz
Prince Fielder
Matt Holliday
Jose Bautista
Ricky Weeks
Matt Kemp
Of that group, before anything got started, I thought the winner might have been Prince Fielder or Jose Bautista. Robinson Cano went second in the first round, and after his first round was over, I thought to myself, “That’s it, he’s winning this”. That thought turned out to be prophetic.
The first round weeded out Holliday, Bautista, Weeks, & Kemp. Weeks & Kemp I didn’t think were advancing anyway, and Holliday was a bit of a surprise getting knocked out. It had to go through a three way swing off, as Ortiz, Fielder, & Holliday all had 5 after the first round. Fielder nailed the swing off, having five swings, and getting five home runs. Fielder’s home runs were like what Ian Kinsler would be like if he had some bulk on him. They were some titanic uppercuts. I mean I’m really shocked nobody hit the roof the way some of the balls were going this night.
There were some really REALLY well hit balls, including a couple that got past the point where they had pre-figured the distances. That was amusing. But as I thought in the first round, Robinson Cano made it through and won the thing overall. Cano kind of reminds me of that old school Yankee that you don’t really hate, even though he’s a Yankee.
Some of my favorite moments from the derby:

  • Fan falling into the pool catching a home run ball hit out that way. Made me laugh.

  • The reactions of players to some of the titanic blasts. That never seems to get old for me.
  • The diving catch a ballboy made for one of the non home run balls. Kid made a great diving catch.
  • The giant bat at the ESPN coverage table. I wish someone had walked to the plate with it.
  • By far though, the best moment was Robinson Cano’s dad being his pitcher. The man was beyond stoic during the derby. Until Cano won it, and it was the biggest smile you could ever imagine. Loved that moment. A LOT.

A decent amount of these things are covered in video cliups on the mlb site. Click the “Game Recap” link at the top of this post to see that.
I had fun watching the Derby this year. Whether it was because I thought I wasn’t going to be able to see it, and then at the last minute I could, or perhaps some of my annoyances were gone, I don’t know. Even Berman’s “Back back back” was reigned in.
Enjoyed it.
One last thing. Given what happened in Arlington with a fan dying, you’d THINK people wouldn’t be so stupid – THAT QUICKLY after an event like that. Pretty much the same thing happened, guy leaning over, and went over, only this time his friends caught him. First off, what the hell? Come on dude. Second, there was a picture I saw of him standing on a table or something, basically his feet were at the level of the security rail. No wonder. At some point you can’t regulate, or “safety bar” people’s stupidity. If they WANT to be that stupid, and take unnecessary risks, there’s nothing you can do. Just glad we got to see that picture of the guy standing that high. It was’t the rails, it was the “mental zero” aspect of this jackass that caused that one.