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Your 2014 Home Run Derby Live Blog

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11:51: Cespedes wins 9-1. Frazier never had a chance. It’s Cespdes’ second win in a row. He’s the first to repeat since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1998-99. They are the only two to have done it.

11:39 PM: Cespedes has five homers against four outs in the finals and is looking strong.

11:30 PM: So the final is Cespedes vs. Frazier. Gotta like the defending champ here. Frazier won the coin toss and elected to go second in the final round.

11:27 PM: Bautista has only three homers against five outs. Maybe he’s cold too. He got that first round bye. So he last hit in, like, 1979.

11:23 PM: Cespedes got seven homers. Now it’s Bautista’s turn. I feel like seven is enough on this night, especially seeing as though Bautista has had a long layoff. But what the hell do I know? I thought that Stanton was going to crush his enemies, see them driven before him and hear the lamentations of their women.

11:19 PM: Tweet of the night here, from our own D.J. Short:

11:17 PM: This is gonna end around midnight Eastern. Back in the 1950s they did Home Run Derbies during the day so the kids could see them.

11:15 PM: Bring back steroids.

11:11 PM: If I hadn’t spent all day calling the Home Run Derby dumb, I’d make some trenchant argument about how the new format with the bye for the first round winners iced Stanton and put him at a disadvantage, but I really can’t do that. Let’s just call it all dumb and hail our new Todd Frazier overlords.

11:09: PM: Stanton hits … zero homers. He is done. I have no words. If this contest wasn’t already stupid, I’d call it stupid.

11: 04 PM: The pace of this thing has really slowed down. Todd Frazier takes his semifinals hacks. He got one homer. Now it’s Stanton’s turn. Maybe the long delay iced Giancarlo, but I kinda doubt it. He’ll hit more than one homer if he uses his foot to hold the bat.

10:56 PM: The fates were not on Jones’ side. Three homers. He gone. The semis are now set: Frazier vs. Stanton in the NL, Cespedes vs. Bautista in the AL.

10: 50 PM: Cesepedes hit nine homers, including a 472-foot job. Adam Jones: good luck, dude.

10:43 PM: Now Cespedes and Adam Jones, head-to-head. But before this we had a high school drum line on the field. Because this isn’t going on long enough.

10:37 PM: Todd Frazier beats Tulo in the second round, 6 homers to 2. Frazier was my darkhorse. He’ll get murdered by Stanton, but I like that he’s advancing.

10:30 PM: So, second round. In the A.L., it’s Cespedes vs. Adam Jones with the winner facing Jose Bautista in the semi finals. In the N.L. It’s Todd Frazier vs. Tulowitzki. The winner of that goes on to be eaten, alive and whole, by a naked, fire-breathing Giancarlo Stanton..

10:23 PM: Todd Frazier got one homer in his three swings, Morneau none, so Morneau is done and Frazier advances. In the AL swing-off Donaldson got one homer in three swings. Cespedes: two. The defending champ goes on. He’s still alive.

10:17 PM: We have two ties in the first round. In the NL it’s Todd Frazier and Morneau in a swing-off to see who advances. In the AL it’s Cespedes and teammate Josh Donaldson. Each player gets three swings. If they’re still tied after three they get one more. If still tied one swing at a time until someone advances. Kind of like a spelling bee.

10:16 PM: Yoenis Cespedes is up. He’s the last guy in the first round. He’s also last year’s champ. This year: three bombs.

10:09 PM: Justin Morneau comes up and, again, gets a big huge round of applause. He only hit two homers, though, so that’s kind of a letdown for the former Twin and former Home Run Derby champ. A nice parting round of applause too.

10:07 PM: I skipped the high schoolers’ final round to go get a hot cocoa. Because it’s freezing. It’s July 14 and it’s freezing. I’m way better with this than I was with the heat last year, but man, it’s cold here.

10:oo PM: Josh Donaldson finishes with three homers, but everyone is still talking about Giancarlo Stanton.

9:55 PM: Stanton’s sixth and final homer of the first round went to the tippy tip of the upper deck in left. That was just insanely far. All of the assembled All-Stars are freaking out. It’s probably worth noting that Stanton’s pitcher, Mike Redmond, was throwing a lot harder than Derby pitchers usually do.

9:52 PM: A fan gets Stanton’s second homer by going over a rail and almost killing himself. Stanton’s third homer is 465 feet into the top deck in left. This is fun.

9:50 PM: Giancarlo Stanton is coming up next. Hold on to your butts, you guys.

9:47 PM: The other high school kid, Luken Baker, gets six homers. So both the high school kids beat the snot out of Puig, Dozier and Frazier.

9:43 PM: Adam Jones had a nice round. He was ripping it deal pull to left for the most part, which is the smart move. He finishes with four.

9:37 PM: Puig turned in the worst first round so far. Zero homers. He was not very selective swinging at everything. When he made contact he went to center and the opposite field. Worst of all: no bat flips. I need a moment.😦

9:35 PM: PUIG TIME PUIG TIME PUIG TIME PUIG TIME

9:33 PM: Two high school kids are now competing in the between-the-big-leaguers portion of the evening. Josh Naylor and Luken Bakaer. Naylor hit three, so I guess that’s better than Frazier and Dozier.

9:30 PM: Bautista finishes with ten homers. Lots of line drives. Boom.

9:28 PM: Jose Bautista is putting on a clinic. He has eight homers and only five outs so far. Some of his bombs havae gone far.

9:25 PM: In between hitters they panned to a luxury box in which Bud Selig and Hank Aaron were sitting. They announced Hank and the crowd went wild. But Hank didn’t know he was on the JumboTron until Bud Selig nudged him and pointed, like every kid you ever see on the JumboTron. Cute.

9:22: Tulo hit four. He now has the NL lead. Remember: you don’t just want to advance. If you lead your league after the first round, you get a bye into the semis.

9:18 PM: Now it’s Troy Tulowitzki. His first one didn’t go out, but was a towering fly ball to the wall. The kids manning the outfield missed it. I think the announcers should taunt those kids more.

9:13 PM: They probably should’ve kept chanting. He ends his first round with two. Now that this is getting going, it is going faster now that there’s only seven outs. So I suppose there’s that.

9:11 PM: The crowd is chanting “DO-ZIER! DO-ZIER!” I guess it’s helping. He now has two homers.

9:09 PM: Brian Dozier leads off for the AL. It’s still raining, BTW.

9:08 PM: Welp, maybe not. Frazier only managers two homers before his seven outs were up.

9:06 PM: There is a giant rainbow over Target Field. All the rain was worth it, you guys.

9:03 PM: Todd Frazier leads off. His brother Charlie is pitching to him. I like Frazier in this, by the way. Maybe not to win, but I bet he does well.

9:00 PM: Ceremonial first pitches from Dave Winfield, Jack Morris, Paul Molitor and Joe Mauer. Jack Morris threw his out to the score.

8:56 PM: Justin Morneau was just introduced. He got a TREMENDOUS round of applause from the folks in Minnesota. Very nice moment. Three guys later Brian Dozier was introduced. Almost — not quite, but almost — as big a round of applause.

8:52 PM: They are beginning to take the little tarps off the mound and the batters box. Which, under normal circumstances, I’d say meant we’d be underway soon. Except they have a trophy thing sitting out there and keep saying the “pre-event festivities” will get going soon. So who knows when the big strong men will start hitting bombs. Which is all we really wanna see now.

8:34 PM: As the rain continues to fall, they are now showing the old “Home Run Derby” TV show on the JumboTron. It’s the Mickey Mantle vs. Harmon Killebrew episode. This is way cooler than the actual one, to be honest.

source:

8:24 PM: This is the current radar:

source:

I’m guessing they’re not going to bang this thing but it ain’t gonna get going at 8:30 either.

8:02 PM: Welp, we’re off with a bang. First official announcement of the evening: the Derby being delayed until 8:30. Where did I put that card with $4.50 left on it for the self-serve beer machine?

7:50 PM: Why live blog this? Like I said earlier this afternoon, the Home Run Derby is kinda boring, so if I don’t commit to live-blogging it I’ll have a hard time paying attention. Give me a task and I can keep my mind focused on anything. Even this.

If you haven’t already, do check out our Home Run Derby preview. And think who you might pick to win it in the unlikely event Giancarlo Stanton falls into an open manhole before it begins. Because I think he’s got it in the bag.

BUT THAT’S WHY THEY PLAY THE GAME! Or, in this case, that’s why they hold the exhibition. And who knows? Maybe the weather has totally thrown this out of whack. It’s cold here right now — about 60 degrees and falling, with a steady wind and on-and-off rain — so maybe that will change the equation. Maybe the guy from Canada will do better.

Keep refreshing this post for stunning insights and analysis as the evening wears on. And on.

And on.

 

Settling the Scores: Memorial Day edition

ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 21:  American flags are shown after being placed by members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in preparation for Memorial Day May 21, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. "Flags-In" has become an annual ceremony since the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was designated to be an Army's official ceremonial unit in 1948  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died in military service. At some point in the past couple of decades, however, it has become an all-purpose flag-waving, patriotism-declaring, civilians-in-camouflage holiday. It’s understandable why this is the case. We, as a country, haven’t always done mourning well. I think it’s part of our national cultural DNA that we don’t and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make days like this difficult.

I feel like the flag-waving and troop-supporting stuff is some sort of subconscious reaction to death. It’s our way of instantly trying to justify those deaths or to explain how they were not in vain, much the same way we might tell someone upon the death of a loved one that they’re in a better place or that they had a full life. Feeling the pain of loss is hard. We want to soften it in any way we can and make our pain serve a larger, better purpose. And so we get today, when Major League Baseball puts its players in camouflage caps and in jerseys with camouflage logos. They’ll sell them too, with proceeds going to good and noble veterans charities. The intent is noble and the ultimate effect of it all is beneficial. But it’s also a little beside the point. Maybe not beside the point as much as mattress sales or big celebratory barbecues which have come to characterize Memorial Day for so many, but still not exactly the purpose of the holiday.

I don’t condemn it. As I wrote last year, the men and women who actually fought and died in wars were hoping that they were, ultimately, making a better and happier world for those they left behind. And they no doubt hoped, among everything else they hoped, that others didn’t have to face what they were facing. They wanted our lives to be happy and our country to be safe and part of a happy and safe country involves 300 million people doing whatever it is they damn please, even if it’s just having barbecues and wearing camo at the ballpark.

I won’t say have a happy Memorial Day because that seems odd. Have any kind of Memorial Day you want, really, even if it includes barbecuing, drinking beer and wearing a cam ballcap. But as you do, please make sure you take some time to think about those who died in military service. And remember that they didn’t get to have as many days like the one you’re having as they were meant to have. And make at least some effort to offset your happy, patriotic or silly pursuits with some mourning and reflectiveness. It’s OK for that to stand on its own.

The scores:

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3
Orioles 6, Indians 4
Yankees 2, Rays 1
Nationals 10, Cardinals 2
Brewers 5, Reds 4
Royals 5, White Sox 4
Cubs 7, Phillies 2
Rangers 6, Pirates 2
Astros 8, Angels 6
Athletics 4, Tigers 2
Twins 5, Mariners 4
Giants 8, Rockies 3
Diamondbacks 6, Padres 3
Marlins 7, Braves 3
Dodgers 4, Mets 2

 

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely:

Report: Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there”

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 24: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers waits to hit during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 24, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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In Saturday’s column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo notes that, according to a scout, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there.” Braun has been bothered by neck and back issues this year, missing on Sunday his eighth start out of the Brewers’ last 14 games, but he has still put up a quality .351/.424/.583 triple-slash line in 170 plate appearances this year.

More importantly for an acquiring team, Braun is in the first year of a five-year, $105 million contract. He’s earning $19 million this season and in the ensuing two seasons, and then his salary decreases slightly to $18 million in 2019, $16 million in 2020, and $15 million if both sides pick up his mutual option (else a $4 million buyout would be exercised).

Per Cafardo, the Astros, Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, Giants, and White Sox are potential landing spots for Braun.