Remember a few years ago when Josh Hamilton hit 20 home runs in an early round of Major League Baseball's Home Run Derby, but didn't win the title? That may have been what the Commissioner's office and other MLB top muckety mucks were trying to prevent tonight, but it didn't work.
The National League's Giancarlo Stanton and American's League Jose Bautista had the best early totals, and received a bye to the final four, but both lost their semifinal pairings and were eliminated. In a format which automatically sets up an AL-NL final, Cincinnati's Todd Frazier defeated Stanton 1-0 to earn his way to the championship meeting. One-nothing is more fitting for a World Cup Final or a Dodger-Padre game than a home run derby, but at least the AL didn't disappoint. The more than well rested Bautista, with almost two hours since his first round, fell to the consistent and showstopping Yoenis Cespedes in the AL final, with Cespedes crushing Frazier for the championship.
Cespedes made the event worth watching, or this could have gone down as the worst Derby ever. First, there was a one-hour rain delay. Fortunately I watched on tape and could fast-forward through all the network stalling. Then there's the worst part, when ESPN is doing interviews while guys are hitting, and taking away from the competition. Then, there was Frazier going first, hitting a grand total of two home runs in his first round, and still making it to the title. Cespedes, though, repeatedly hit them into the upper deck, allowing Chris Berman to say “That one was hit all the way to...”, and then mentioning every Minnesota city he could think of, which was actually quite amusing. He didn't mention Duluth, but got in Bob Dylan's home town of Hibbing.
Baseball may end up tinkering with the format again next year, though. In what was supposed to reward the guys with the best first rounds, it was the two that had to get through a tie-breaker to advance out of the first round, that met for the championship. Kind of like the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers in hockey. Although if you think about it that way, it wasn't so bad at all.
In the Puig of an eye: Dodgers don't seem to have much of a history in home run derbies, do they? I remember Mike Piazza taking a zero, and getting kidded about it for years. Tonight, Yasiel Puig was up at the plate for exactly 1 minute and 34 seconds, took five pitches, and swung at seven others, hitting none of them out of park. Said Berman: “It's like he hardly was here. That's a shame.” Yeah.
Snooooooooooooooore: I think I actually nodded off during the biggest sporting event in the entire world. Germany beat Argentina 1-0 in extra time in the World Cup Soccer finale. There were 113 minutes of nothing, then a pretty piece of athleticism that resulted in a goal, then seven more minutes of nothing, and then a trophy presentation. Even the Spanish announcers couldn't keep me from catching a couple of z's shortly before the only goal. I guess, like baseball or hockey, there are good 1-0 games and bad 1-0 games in soccer. US-Germany was pretty good, even though the Americans lost. This one, though, is not going to make any American kids join the AYSO anytime soon. I don't like the idea of penalty kicks to decide a match, but this one was seven minutes away from at least something to pay attention to. I'm sure I'll feel the same way in 2018—the next time I watch an entire soccer game.