If you are still sleeping on the Home Run Derby you are a big dumb idiot. The annual contest was held last night in Cleveland and featured some of the most bat-to-ball fun I’ve had all season. You could say that’s because I’m a Red Sox fan and their bullpen is a walking tire fire but that’s neither here nor there.
We all know the balls are juiced and they completely ignored the whole ‘let the ball land before you hit another’ rule but who cares. This only made things more fun. With that said, last night we were privileged enough to see the future of baseball on full display. Even though we are no longer afforded the luxury of Chris Berman, I hardly even noticed after the fireworks started. The youngsters were yacking bombs all over Progressive Field. I couldn’t care less about the last minute substitution of Matt Chapman for Christian Yelich. We were still treated to some of the most enjoyable walloping the game can provide. Let’s not forget that there was a cool $1 million prize for the winner which is a fantastic idea to get the young stars to come out who are making the league minimum. Good job, MLB.
The Vlad Bracket
Let’s start with the obvious: Vlad Guerrero Jr. What an absolute delight this kid is. A mountain of a man (child) who swings with the violence and power of his father. All while carrying an extra me around with him as he hacks away with reckless abandon. Just pure baseball porn watching this dude hit. Vlad’s first round saw him facing off with the previously mentioned Chapman and that poor bastard never should have left Oakland. Vladito put up 29 moon shots. Matty Chaps had to follow and it went about as one would expect. His paltry mark of 13 was no match. Sure, his pitcher didn’t seem to grasp the concept and threw him unhittable junk but whatever. It’s not like it was his dad or anything (it was his dad).
As if this was not enough, the young superstar then took on Joc Pederson in the second round. This lasted multiple swing offs and it was just an absolute delight. His final number is skewed because of this fact but it let us watch him pummel another 40 dingers over the wall and cement his domination over one side of the bracket. Side note: The three swing swing-off was a nice throwback to the old derby rules. We definitely don’t need to go back to this inferior version but a dusting was nice for providing some extra drama.
The Alonso Bracket
On the other side, we have the Polar Bear himself, Pete Alonso. Full disclosure, I love Alonso. He is such a beast and makes pointless Mets games watchable. His at-bats are must watch. Anyway, you could say that Pete had a much easier path to the finals. I wouldn’t, but one could say this. Sure, he hit about half as many homers as Vlady but he was facing a much higher level of difficulty. Alonso decided to even the playing field by choosing his cousin to be his pitcher. A man whose grasp of this contest and its rules were similar to that of Chapman’s dad. Don’t believe me? Check out this spray chart of Alonso’s homers. It’s insane.
Who goes oppo this many times in a derby? He was reaching for terrible pitches all night and still depositing them in the seats. He not only carried his own massive frame into the finals but also the deadweight of his pitcher. What I learned from this was nepotism is bad and Pete is an animal.
The Final Final
The championship round could not have worked out any better. We got Pete and Vlad facing off for the crown. I was giddy. Two of the most exciting young players in the game facing off to see whose…home run total is bigger. They did not disappoint. Vlad went first and put up a respectable 22 bombs. He was clearly gassed from the ridiculous performance he put on but I will accept no asterisk. Then, Alonso went about his business, putting up 23 and taking the much-deserved title.
I have seen some loser blue checkmarks on twitter scold Pete for his emotional reaction. This is typical old baseball writer nonsense. The kid just tripled his salary in an evening. How dare he celebrate. For shame. Please. Be older. My guy went out there and mashed, took the title and hammered a check. Celebrate all you want my dude. You earned it. Also, speaking of old, out of touch and pointless, let’s check in on Bob Nightengale’s pre derby tweet:
What an idiot.