One of the 5,359 reasons the Home Run Derby sucks

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And now, the moment only the masochistic among you have been waiting for, the Home Run Derby:

The 2009 State Farm Home Run Derby field was finalized on Sunday,
when American League home run leader Carlos Pena was named to replace
the Red Sox’s Dustin Pedroia on the AL roster for Tuesday’s All-Star
Game and as the fourth AL entrant in the Derby . . . Pena joins Tigers
third baseman Brandon Inge, Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz and Twins
catcher Joe Mauer from the Junior Circuit, and the National League
features big league homer leader, hometown hero and All-Star
centerpiece Albert Pujols of the Cardinals, plus Adrian Gonzalez of the
Padres, Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard of the
Phillies.

I just can’t stand the derby. It’s tedious. It’s repetitive. It gets
worse as it goes on because guys get tired. It’s just really not my cup
of tea. But worst of all, it features Chris Berman calling each and
every shot, and that’s ninth circle of hell stuff. This year even more
so, because I recently discovered that, in addition to being annoying,
his “back, back, back” business is both (a) stolen; and (b) wrong. I read this last week while doing some research on fabled Dodgers and Yankees broadcaster Red Barber:

A number of play-by-play announcers, including Chris Berman, picked
up on his use of “back, back, back” to describe a long fly ball with
potential to be a home run. Oddly, those other announcers are
describing the flight of the ball, whereas Barber was describing the
outfielder, in this famous call from Game 6 of the 1947 World Series
with Joe DiMaggio at bat: “Here’s the pitch, swung on, belted… it’s a
long one… back goes Gionfriddo, back, back, back, back, back, back…
heeee makes a one-handed catch against the bullpen! Oh, Doctor!”

Which makes sense when you think about it because the ball, as far as
it’s concerned anyway, is going forward. It’s the outfielder who is
going back.

Either way, fine Berman, steal from Red Barber if you must. But at
least steal correctly. There are no outfielders making plays on the
ball at the Home Run Derby, so there shouldn’t be any “back, back,
backs.” If you agree to drop that tired, stolen and inaccurate shtick,
I’ll agree to watch your little exhibition. Deal?

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

atlanta braves
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images
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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.