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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.

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8:24 PM: This is the current radar:

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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.

 

Reminder: athletes are not heroes

Zack Greinke
Associated Press
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This is something of a “greatest hits” piece and it’s topic I’ve talked about here before, but I’m reminded of it again because of Facebook’s memories thing which tells me I wrote about it seven years ago today back when I was still doing stuff at my old Shysterball blog at the Hardball Times.

The topic: ballplayers as heroes. The subject of the 2009 post on the matter was Zack Greinke, who was then beginning his breakout year with the Kansas City Royals. A columnist talked about how uplifting Greinke’s story was, what with him having overcome some struggles with anxiety disorder which had caused him to leave the game for a brief period. In early 2009 he was back, baby, and better than ever and many wanted to turn him into something larger than just a ballplayer excelling at his craft.

In the post I wrote about how, while such an impulse was understandable, it was a dangerous one as athletes have been made into heroes for years and years and, so often, they end up disappointing. Because we built them up so high, however, we don’t see such instances as the mere exhibition of human fallibility. We see them as some greater failure or even a betrayal, which is both ridiculous and unfair to these men and women, even if they have failed in certain ways. They have worked hard all of their lives to be good at a particular sport. They did not promise us glory or inspiration, yet we assume that they owe us those things. Their failures, however they are manifested, are matched by our failures at expectation management.

But it’s even more pernicious than that. Because, as I wrote at the time, when we create heroes, we necessarily create the need for villains and we will go out of our way to find those too, justified or otherwise:

“Hero” is too strong and baggage-laden a word anyway. As [Bill] James notes, it places a heavy burden on young men, and these guys are under such scrutiny day-in and day-out that they really don’t need it. What’s more, the term hero it necessarily assumes its opposite — villain — and demands that we search them out too. You know, to restore balance to the universe and everything. Often — as in the case of A-Rod and Gooden and Bonds and all of the others — they’re the same people, just older . . . Hero creation, worship, and subsequently, destruction has long been a part of baseball. But it’s not an essential part, and in my mind not a desirable part.

Seven years later we’re still doing this. As Bill James noted in his “Historical Baseball Abstract,” “When a young player comes to the major leagues and has success right away, writers will almost always write about what a fine young man he is as well as a supreme talent.” Many of them, like Zack Greinke, will prove to continue to be fine older men, just as they were fine young men. Some will not. Would it not be better if we didn’t get so invested in how fine a young man any one of them is? Or, short of that, if we didn’t act so betrayed and victimized if they turn out not to be such a fine young man?

I like to hear a good story about a baseball player who, by all outward appearances, seems like a good person. But I’m content to give such a story a smile and leave it at that. If we require heroism, there are people who do truly heroic things in the world beyond throw baseballs.

Andrew McCutchen apologies to an official scorer he said should be fired

Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) watches from the dugout during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in Pittsburgh. Detroit won 7-3.(AP Photo/Don Wright)
Associated Press
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Andrew McCutchen made an error on Wednesday night. He thought he shouldn’t have been charged with one on the play, however, and afterward said “whoever scored that an error should be fired. That’s unbelievable. I did everything I could to catch it.”

It was a dumb comment for two reasons. First, a player “doing everything he can” on a play doesn’t make a misplay not a misplay. The “e” ain’t about effort, man. I realize scoring has gotten somewhat lax in recent years and players are routinely not given errors if it looks like they really, really tried, but there is not an intent element to the crime of making errors on the playing field. If you muff one, you muff one.

It was a dumb comment for another reason, and that’s that it was just not very nice. As we noted when David Ortiz or some others have made publicly disparaging comments about official scorers, it’s the ultimate punching down. These are people who have other jobs, aren’t public figures, don’t get paid a lot and really, really don’t have it in for anyone. Publicly criticizing them is bad enough, publicly demanding their jobs is pretty low.

Thankfully, with a day’s worth of reflection, McCutchen realized that this was the case and apologized. There aren’t public words from McCutchen available, but the club said that he reached out to the scorer and personally apologized. As he should’ve.

 

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

New York Yankees relief pitcher Johnny Barbato, right, walks off the field after being relieved in the tenth inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles in Baltimore, Thursday, May 5, 2016. Baltimore won 1-0 in ten innings. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Orioles 1, Yankees 0: Kevin Gausman didn’t even break as sweat, allowing three hits in eight shutout innings. He got the no-decision, though, as the he, Masahiro Tanaka and relievers traded zeros through regulation. In the 10th, however, the Orioles broke through against Johnny Barbato and Andrew Miller. One wonders if they break through at all, however, if Miller starts the inning rather than comes in with runners on the corer and no one out. Barbato is a rookie with little experience and in that experience he has has demonstrated some pretty ineffective pitching. The Yankees have been stinkin’ up the joint, Miller is one of the best relievers in baseball and he had pitched just once in the previous five days. For the Yankees to go with Barbato there, when a single run means a loss, than Miller, is insanity. The old “don’t use your closer in a tie game on the road” thing was no doubt in play there, but for as conventional as that is, it is not wisdom. It’s the delegation of logic. It’s asking the manager to forget who his pitchers are and what his larger situation is (i.e. the Yankees NEED to win some games right now) in order to adhere to some stupid convention with less than a couple of decades of venerability. The Orioles won this game, but calcified thinking lost it.

Padres 5, Mets 3: Colin Rea pitched no-hit ball into the seventh before Yoenis Cespedes drove a ground ball single to right field with two outs. The hit came as a result of Cespedes going the other way against the shift. I’m assuming some people will say shifts suck because if there wasn’t one here Rea might’ve pitched a no-hitter, but the game story notes that the no-hit bid was extended by the shift several times. In other news, shift politics rather bore me. Hit doubles and homers and you don’t need to worry about shifts. They take away singles. Not much else.

Marlins 4, Diamondbacks 0: The Marlins have won 10 of 11 games. Five have come against bad teams, but what most people forget is that good teams winning a lot of games against bad teams is a huge part of why they’re good teams. I’m not sure if I’m mentally prepared for the Marlins to be a good team in 2016, but here we are.

Cubs 5, Nationals 2: Good teams beat a lot of bad teams. SUPER good teams beat other good teams too. The Nats are good. The Cubs are SUPER good and they cruise in a matchup between the NL’s two best so far. Kyle Hendricks pitched six scoreless innings and Ben Zobrist drove in four runs. Every team slumps at times and as a franchise the Cubs have been know to swoon, but this sure as hell feels different to me. These guys are fantastic.

Red Sox 7, White Sox 3: Sox win! Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez and Jackie Bradley Jr. all homered. The Sox have won nine of 11. Pedroia is looking like vintage Pedroia. This is another matchup of two good teams. One of ’em took two of three from the other, making them gooder right now.

Indians 9, Tigers 4: Michael Brantley was 4-for-5 with three RBI and Mike Napoli had a three-run homer. In other news, I had this exchange at about 9:30 last night with a Tigers fan friend of mine:

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Cardinals 4, Phillies 0: Brandon Moss hit a homer that they judged to be 462 feet. That would make it the fourth longest by anyone on the season. The previous long homers: Nolan Arenado, 471 feet, Sean Rodriguez, 468, and Byung Ho Park, 466. Home run measuring remains something of an inexact science but that’s pretty rad. Meanwhile, Jaime Garcia pitches seven two-hit shutout innings.

Blue Jays 12, Rangers 2: Edwin Encarnacion homered, doubled twice and drove in six runs. Is that good? I feel like that’s pretty good.

Reds 9, Brewers 5Jay Bruce hit a three-run homer and Alfredo Simon made it through seven effective innings and two-thirds of a not-so-effective one. Maybe he ran out of gas in the eighth when he allowed a two-run homer before leaving, but with the Reds’ bullpen stinkin’ like it stinks, you stretch a guy if you can. The pen came in and allowed another couple of runs in the ninth, but you know the old saying “you don’t lose often when you score nine runs and you’re playing Milwaukee even if your bullpen is a friggin’ train wreck.” I think Joe McCarthy said that.

 

Mariners 6, Astros 3: It was tied at three in the ninth when Luke Gregerson loaded up the bases and Robinson Cano cleared them off with a three-run double. A rare good start from an Astros’ stater is again wasted by the Houston pen. But sure, Carlos Gomez is the issue here.

Rockies 17, Giants 7: Remember yesterday when I said that the back end of the Giants rotation was bad? I should’ve said it was a tire fire in a sulfur mine. Matt Cain, who is clearly not right, allowed eight runs, six earned, on ten hits in four innings. The Rockies scored 13 runs in the fifth inning, which Cain started but couldn’t finish. Cain and Jake Peavy may be famous, but they’re killing San Francisco right now. In other news, Tim Lincecum will throw his little showcase for teams in Arizona later this morning. If the Giants aren’t at least thinking about getting back together with their old flame something is wrong.

Colin Rea loses no-hit bid in the seventh against the Mets

San Diego Padres starting pitcher Colin Rea works against a Pittsburgh Pirates batter during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 19, 2016, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
AP Photo/Gregory Bull
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Update (12:01 AM EDT): And it’s over. Yoenis Cespedes drove a ground ball single to right field with two outs in the seventh inning to end Rea’s no-hit bid.

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Padres starter Colin Rea has tamed the hot-hitting Mets lineup so far this Thursday night. The right-hander has walked only one, the lone batter above the minimum he has faced. Rea has also struck out three while accumulating 76 pitches.

The Padres’ offense provided Rea with five runs of support, scoring once in each of the first, second, and third, as well as twice in the sixth. Wil Myers smacked a solo homer off of Jacob deGrom in the first inning. Rea helped himself with an RBI single in the second, Alexei Ramirez brought in a run with a double in the third, Derek Norris drove a solo homer in the sixth, and Jon Jay shortly thereafter hit an RBI double.

The Mets entered play Thursday tied for the National League lead in home runs hit as a team with 40. Rea, meanwhile, came into Thursday’s action with a 4.61 ERA and a 22/13 K/BB ratio in 27 1/3 innings spanning five starts and one relief appearance.

If Rea is able to complete the job, he would become the first pitcher in Padres history to throw a no-hitter. Jake Arrieta threw the first no-hitter of the 2016 season on April 21 against the Reds.

We’ll keep you updated as Rea attempts to navigate through the final three innings.