If you ask anyone affiliated with the MLB, they’d probably tell you the 2018 Home Run Derby and All star Game was as good as it gets in terms pure entertainment. I’d certainly be the first one to say so. Granted, my opinion may be a bit swayed here- I was fortunate enough to attend both events held in Washington, D.C. earlier this week. And as a spectator, I can tell you that things at Nationals Park were ELECTRIC.
Ok. I know the Home Run Derby isn’t for everyone. And since it no longer determines home-field advantage in the World Series, there really are no consequences rendered by the game except for its entertainment value to viewers. So on that front, the Derby needs to be straight fireworks in order to be a success. And boy, was it.
We saw a record 221 dingers hit, the most ever at a Home Run Derby, a plethora of 440 foot-plus homers, and witnessed Bryce Harper come storming back to win in the final round in front of his home crowd, on what was essentially a walk-off home run. On top of that, we saw it in a nice, compact, and well-paced product thanks to the 4-minute time limit per batter, per round rule. I was lucky enough to sit in the heart of left field. And while I wasn’t able to snag a homer, I watched bomb after bomb pepper the seats around me. Easily one of the coolest sports experiences I have ever had.
The potential concern I had going into the Derby, though, was that it lacked a few big names. No Judge, no Stanton, no Betts. And I must say, that by the end of this showing, I couldn’t have cared less about their absences. Because after watching a Derby like this in its entirety, I realize this- a home run is a home run. Whether it’s J.D. Martinez or Max Muncy, 20 dingers in a 4-minute round is still incredible to watch.
This Derby managed to set a total Home Run record without a slew of superstars. So how important are those guys, really? Sure, it would be fun to see Stanton face off against Judge. But this Derby showed us that a lot of other guys can produce the same results (if not better results) so in the end, I don’t think I can ever get too bent out of shape when the elite power hitters of the game decline the invitation. Is Giancarlo Stanton hitting 20 homers more captivating than Rhys Hoskins hitting 40? I just want to be entertained at the end of the day, and this Home Run Derby was all that and then some.
The All Star Game
Or should I say the Home Run Derby, Part Two. Anyone who was disappointed on not seeing Judge or Trout light things up in the Derby got their wishes granted in the All-Star game. Each of the homers (along with 8 others) broke the All-Star game record for long-balls in a game. Seriously, I’m not sure if it was something in the air, but the balls were JUMPING off bats. The crowd feasted on the offensive spectacle, after first being treated by seeing hometown ace Max Scherzer toss two innings to start the game. In the end, the two teams combined to crush the over/under betting line at a total of 7 runs with a score of 8-6. We got to see plenty of power, and we got to see in some high-leverage situations, including a game-tying homer from Scooter Gennett in the bottom of the ninth. We got to see extra innings and got TWO MORE homers in extras as well. Start to finish, it went as well as any fan could ask it go. For a game that literally meant nothing, it certainly felt like a playoff game by the end.
An interesting note here- this week’s All-Star Game pulled in record low ratings, despite all the tremendous action, averaging just under 9 million viewers. Perhaps this game may inspire more folks to watch next year, but in the meantime, the MLB has a problem on its hands. And that’s about finding more ways to get people to tune in because there seems to be a lot of baseball fans out there who missed out on one hell of a game.
A Bonus Shoutout to Nats Park
Just want to quickly add this in: Nationals Park is a legit treasure for the baseball world, and a lovely place to see a game. There are no bad views, the concession scene is incredible, and the hometown fans are as raucous as any I have seen. Seriously, whether you are a casual fan or a baseball snob, make your way to the Navy Yard for a game if you get the chance.
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