The Home Run Derby is a waste of time, but it’s a good waste of time. If there’s a better way to separate the first half from the second, let me know. Watching absolute units crush balls into the July night sky is the perfect way to take out your frustrations on a terrible first half. Seriously. Try it this year!
But with every home run derby, you should know some things going into it. You should be prepared. Thankfully, I’m here to help you with that.
#1 – Chris Berman is no longer involved
Chris Berman is a National Treasure (#DietCoke.) However, if I have to hear tha man yell “Back, Back, Back, Back, Back, Back, Back, Back, Back, Back, Back, Back, Back, Back, Back, Back, Back, Back,” one more time, I’m gonna lose my mind. Seriously. They say you can’t hear pictures, but show me Chris Berman’s headshot and far off in the distant corners of my brain comes that sound roaring back, as loud as ever.
Thanks, Chris. I appreciate you, but I’m glad you’re not coming “Back, Back, Back, Back.”
#2 – Joc Pederson‘s brother Champ is the best
For those of you who don’t know, Joc Pederson’s brother Champ is the actual best. I’m not just saying that. I wholeheartedly mean it. Champ has been one of Joc’s biggest supporters since he came up with the Dodgers. Even after Joc’s production dropped off the map following his 2015 Home Run Derby appearance, his older brother still had his back.
Since making his presence known at the 2015 Derby, Champ has become a bit of a celebrity. From throwing out the first pitch at Dodger games, doing the Warriors player intros, to even inspiring his own New Era snapback, Champ is the best and I really hope he’s there cheering on his brother in Cleveland.
#3 – Pete Alonso will charm the Nation
Pete Alonso flat-out rakes, and he’s stoked to be making his first All-Star Game appearance. Alonso joins Jacob deGrom and Jeff McNeil as the three representatives for the Triple-A New York Mets. I like Pete Alonso. Why? Because he’s given me no reason to hate him, unlike the Mets bullpen. If there’s one thing Pete has in spades, it’s blue-collar charm. Seriously, check out this video that he put together with McNeil.
COME ON. HOW CAN YOU NOT FALL IN LOVE WITH THEM?
#4 – Carlos Santana will exit in the first round
Carlos Santana can hit a baseball very far. In fact, he does it quite often. However, when it comes to representing the hometown team, Cleveland is sending their C-team for the Derby. José Ramirez is having an off-year and wasn’t even voted in, Francisco Lindor didn’t make the starting lineup, so it’s gotta be Santana. Look for him to fly out in the first round, taking an L from Pete Alonso.
#5 – Vlad Guerrero, Jr. is the underdog and has a swing that should be hung in The Louvre
I, for one, am very excited to see Vlad, Jr. compete in the Home Run Derby. I rarely fall for the MLB At-Bat App updates of a major prospects call-up, but with Vlad, Jr.’s was one that I completely bought into.
This kid’s swing took my breath away.
I grew up idolizing his father and his all or nothing swing that seemed to take him out of his shoes on every hit. Vladdy Jr. is no different. The kid is a phenom in the making and could be the sleeper in the Derby. If I’m a betting man, my money is on the kid. Seriously. The EIGHT SEED?! FOR VLAD’S KID? DISRESPECTFUL.
#6 – Matt Chapman will be exactly as advertised… fine
Matt Chapman is a very good ballplayer. He’s hit 21 home runs this season. However, Chapman is only participating in this year’s Derby due to Christian Yelich dropping out. Expect Chapman to be a decent replacement, but don’t expect big things.
#7 – Josh Bell and Ronald Acuña, Jr. have the most explosive first-round matchup
Every Home Run Derby has one first-round matchup that is heinous. Both sluggers seem to be hitting home runs with every swing, trying to hit each ball further and further into orbit.
That round will absolutely be Ronald Acuña, Jr. and Josh Bell matchup. Josh Bell has been nasty all season long, slugging on a whole new level for the Pirates. Acuña, Jr., on the other hand, has carried his phenomenal 2018 season into this year. Coming in just behind Freddie Freeman for top Braves slugger is no small task, and the Atlanta faithful are ecstatic that Freddie finally has some help.
Look for these two to put on quite the show. Seriously. These dudes can mash.
#8 – The Catcher is going to look SO OVER IT
When I watch a Home Run Derby, I always end up focusing on the catcher. Clearly one of the Cleveland bullpen catchers, this person is tasked with wearing some seriously ASG-branded gear, and asked to catch 60 MPH meatballs for 5 hours. That’s gotta be hell.
That’s it. The Home Run Derby is always equal part fun and excruciating for some reason. However, much like the All-Star Game itself, it’s a tradition, it’s fun and it’s basically pointless, so why not just enjoy it for the foolishness it is.
I mean, last year Bryce Harper won it in Washington and then left to play for a division rival, and this year is nowhere to be seen. It’s a weird thing, but it’s our thing.
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