An hour or so ago Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman said that the Mets were talking to John Lackey, Matt Holliday and Jason Bay “with renewed hopes to sign 1 of big 3.” This contrasts with the general
consensus here in Indy — especially among the New York writers —
that the Mets aren’t really players for any of those guys and that if they do anything this week it will be to sign Bengie Molina and eat a few nice catered meals.
Could that have changed? And if so, what could have “renewed those hopes?” A sudden change of budgetary heart on the part of the Wilpons? A sudden backtracking on the part of Lackey’s people regarding their desire for the five or six year deal that no one seems to want to give him? The Red Sox dropping out of the Jason Bay derby? Here’s a theory of my own: if the Mets are suddenly thinking bigger, it’s because the Yankees have been going hog wild (relatively speaking) this week, and they don’t want to get blown the hell off the back pages of the tabloids.
Whatever the case, any renewed push for one of the big three on the Mets’ part strikes me as a reactive move as opposed to one that was planned out ahead of time, because until this afternoon, all signs pointed to a relatively quiet Winter Meetings for the New York Mets.
Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.
Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.
Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.
As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.