We made it, you guys.
Another Home Run Derby is in the rear view mirror, as Prince Fielder defeated Jose Bautista in the finals tonight to take home this year’s crown. It was Fielder’s second Home Run Derby win, the other coming back in 2009 in St. Louis. Ken Griffey, Jr., who won in 1994, 1998 and 1999, is the only other player who has won the competition more than once. Yes, they apparently keep records of this stuff.
Fielder slugged a total of 28 homers on the night, including five in the first round, 11 in the second round and 12 in the finals. Plenty of fountain splashes were had. Fielder’s 12 homers in the final round actually tied Robinson Cano’s final-round record from last year. He also had the longest blast of the night, checking in at 476 feet.
Bautista, who advanced by defeating Mark Trumbo in a swing-off, managed seven homers in the finals. He had 20 overall, including a first-round best of 11.
The National League was suffering from a serious lack of Giancarlo Stanton and it showed in the final tally, as they were crushed 61-21. NL captain Matt Kemp hit one only home run while Carlos Beltran was the only member of the squad to advance to the second round.
While the AL cruised to victory, they didn’t get any help from their captain Cano. He ended up with a goose egg, much to the delight of the Kauffman Stadium faithful. You see, the home crowd was upset that Cano didn’t pick Billy Butler for his squad. And they really let him have it. Almost uncomfortably so.
This is actually the second straight year that the home fans booed one of the Home Run Derby participants, as the Fielder was jeered by the Chase Field crowd last year for not picking Justin Upton. Next year the All-Star Game takes place at Citi Field, so expect lots of disappointment when Mike Nickeas isn’t chosen to participate.
On Sunday, it was reported that second baseman Neil Walker and the Mets were discussing a potential three-year contract extension worth “north of $40 million.” Those discussions took a turn for the worse. The Mets feel extension talks are “probably dead,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.
Walker underwent a lumbar microdisectomy in September, ending his 2016 season during which he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI over 458 plate appearances.
The Mets may not necessarily need to keep Walker around as it has some potential options up the middle waiting in the minor leagues. Though Amed Rosario is expected to stick at shortstop, Gavin Cecchini — the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline — could shift over to second base.
The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.