Are you ready for the excitement of the Home Run Derby?

31 Comments

I’ll spare you all of my grousing about the Home Run Derby. Some people like it. Some people don’t. If you’re in the former camp, mazel tov. If you’re in the latter, may I suggest that you watch “Batman: Under the Red Hood,” which is streaming on Netflix?  I watched that on Saturday and was really impressed with it.  If neither of those things are to your liking, feel free to spend this evening writing letters to Major League Baseball, petitioning them to move the Futures Game to Monday night when some people will actually watch it.

That aside, we have a Home Run Derby tonight. They went with team captains picking the participants this year, with David Ortiz for the American League and Prince Fielder for the National League. The field breaks down like so:

American League: Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista and Robinson Cano.

National League: Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Matt Kemp and Matt Holliday.

You have to like the Americans here, simply for the presence of Bautista and former champ Ortiz.  Oddsmakers — because for some damn reason people actually bet on this stuff — like the AL squad too, with Bautista and Ortiz holding the best odds of winning the thing. But you can’t count out Prince Fielder given that he is, after all, a former Derby champ himself.

I have to say that I agree with what a lot of people are saying, however, in that it would have been fun to see some batting practice freaks in this thing. Jayson Stark has a column on it today, and he makes a good case for guys like Wily Mo Pena — who had national writers lobbying for his inclusion — Mike Stanton and even Bryce Harper to get involved. Guys whose trouble with same-handed pitchers and difficulty with offspeed junk would not have been a problem for them in the Derby setting. Pure power. Shock and awe.  Would have been a lot of fun.

Screw it, I won’t spare you the entirety of my grousing. Indeed, the best ever complaint about the Home Run Derby — voiced by Will Leitch four years ago — still holds true: “Why does an event that has eight participants require nine people to cover it?”

With that in mind, as you’re watching it this evening, listening to Chris Berman and his back-backs and listening to all of the former jocks say “man, he really hit that one!”  ask yourself: is this more about baseball, or is it more about TV, money, selling ads and killing time?

Yankees defeat Blue Jays to clinch postseason spot

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Yankees guaranteed their place in the postseason with a 5-1 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday. Sonny Gray led the charge against their division rivals, clinching his 10th win of the season with six innings of four-hit, one-run, four-strikeout ball.

Gray worked into a little trouble in the first inning, putting runners in scoring position after Josh Donaldson drew a four-pitch walk and Justin Smoak advanced him with a single. The Yankees’ ace induced two quick outs to end the threat, but was overpowered by a Teoscar Hernandez home run in the third inning, the rookie’s fourth blast of the season:

Thankfully for the Yankees, that was the only run that slipped through the cracks. Gray finished the remainder of his outing with two hits and two walks and was backed by another three scoreless innings from the bullpen. Greg Bird supplied the go-ahead run with a three-RBI shot in the fifth inning, plating Chase Headley and Starlin Castro to give the Yankees their first lead of the night.

Todd Frazier tacked on another solo homer in the eighth, while Starlin Castro returned in the ninth to cap the win with an RBI single. Aroldis Chapman did the rest, wielding just 10 pitches to get three straight outs from Kendrys Morales, Kevin Pillar and Rob Refsnyder.

Following Saturday’s win, the Yankees have at least secured one wild card berth, though they’re not out of the division race just yet. They still sit a full four games back of first place in the AL East, with eight games left to play.

Watch: Brian Dozier pulls off a bunt home run

Getty Images
1 Comment

Brian Dozier had a bonafide Little League moment during Saturday’s contest against the Tigers. In the first inning, the Twins’ second baseman squared up a bunt against Detroit left-hander Matt Boyd, which was scooped by Jeimer Candelario halfway up the third base line. The throw to first skirted the bag, allowing Dozier to touch all the bases and slide home to score the Twins’ first run of the game.

In other words, it was just your run-of-the-mill bunt home run:

Officially, the play was scored as a single and run scored on a throwing error. Still, if this is a sampling of the kind of plays we can expect to see from the Twins this October, it’s shaping up to be one wacky postseason.