WEEI spoke with David Ortiz before last night’s game and he made it clear that he’s not participating in any more Home Run Derbys. Why? Not for the reason I thought (you can’t flip your bat and strut in the Home Run Derby). It’s because he’s old, man:
“If [Robinson Cano] asks me to do it? I wouldn’t do it. I’m done with that … I can’t do it no more. I can’t even do it in batting practice. Watch me in batting practice, I might lose a couple of balls but that’s it. I can’t do it. It wears me out. Wears me out. And you know the Home Run Derby can be taken lightly. You have to be young with a lot of energy.”
Sounds right and sensible. I get tired watching those guys do it. They take way, way more hacks in a Derby than anyone ever does in BP, and those hacks are obviously harder. The idea that used to hold in which the Home Run Derby destroys guys and changes their swing doesn’t have a ton of evidence behind it, but I’d be shocked if the players who participate in it aren’t totally wiped afterwards.
If I’m a Red Sox fan, I’m really happy that Papi wants no part of the Home Run Derby anymore.
As per tradition, towards the end of the regular season, veterans on baseball’s various clubs haze the rookies by making them dress up and do something a bit embarrassing. That used to include things like making rookies dress up like women and carry pink backpacks, but Major League Baseball banned that practice, so veterans had to get marginally more creative.
The Phillies had their rookies — including Rhys Hoskins, J.P. Crawford, and Nick Williams — dress up like characters in Grease and perform “Greased Lightning” at their hotel in Atlanta on Friday night. Not only did the Phils’ vets and other members of the crew get a free show, but so did employees of the hotel and nearby hotel patrons.
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As MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki explains, Hoskins was the inspiration for the gag as he has earned the nickname “Rhys Lightning.” (Rhys, for the uninitiated, rhymes with “Grease.”) Hoskins said, “You always hear about team chemistry. I think stuff like that let’s you get to know guys on a different level, when you’re not at the field. You just become more personable with people. The better relationships you have, there’s a different level of playing for each other. And I think that’s usually a sign of a good team.”
The Twins also had some fun at the rookies’ expense:
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge went yard twice in Sunday afternoon’s 9-5 loss to the Blue Jays, bringing his season total up to 48. That leaves him just one home run shy of tying the single-season rookie record set by Mark McGwire with the Athletics in 1987.
After Sunday’s performance, Judge is hitting .281/.416/.610 with 48 home runs, 105 RBI, and 122 runs scored in 651 plate appearances. He has the AL Rookie of the Year Award on lock and is neck-and-neck with the Astros’ Jose Altuve, Chris Sale of the Red Sox, and the Indians’ Corey Kluber in the AL MVP Award race.