I watched last night’s Home Run Derby while chowing down on a fast-food bacon cheeseburger. And you’re damn right I got the large drink and fries. I didn’t retrieve it in my V8 pickup truck, nor did I chase that cocktail of unsaturated fat and high fructose corn syrup with a watery American light lager, but I wish I had.
The Home Run Derby is a contrived, kind of pointless, made-for-TV event. It doesn’t feature the best, or even the most entertaining, home run hitters. It’s not even really a competition. There is nothing clever or subtle about it. It’s precisely the kind of thoughtless, brazen rain dance to excess and shallow simplemindedness that people like me tend to hate. To the forward-thinking fans, the Home Run Derby is an easy target for derision. I try not to fall too far into that easy contrarian trap, so I turned on the Derby aiming to enjoy it from a distance.
That lasted until a 483-foot home run off the bat of Prince Fielder that took about four minutes to land in the bleachers.
Last night, some MLB dudes did some yard work (total insider baseball term there) at the 2013 Home Run Derby. Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland A's bested Bryce Harper in the final round, which means Harper has to serve as the Cuban slugger's personal bat boy for the rest of the season. Tough break, Nats fans. On the bright side, he probably is safe from doing this for a while.
Just kidding (Harper is never safe from running into a wall). Anyway, you probably saw some of the action last night, since there was possibly literally nothing else on except The Bachelorette. But in case you missed it, here are some of the best moments from the Derby in GIF form, courtesy of Grantland's GIF Derby winner, @HeyBelinda.
In case you were busy getting up close and personal with nature, really getting in there, getting deep, all the way into nature, here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
Oakland slugger Yoenis Cespedes blasted his way to the Home Run Derby championship, easily outpacing Bryce Harper to take home the title. Cespedes will now be forced to perform his duties as Mr. American Home Run Man for the next 12 months, touring the nation to speak at trade shows, conventions, and store openings about the virtues of hitting home runs. He will get to wear his crown and sash for the duration of his reign, an honor that former winners have called "way worse than just being a professional baseball player" and "a nightmare, you can't even appear in the ESPN Body Issue lest you tarnish the sash."
Alex Rodriguez hit his first professional home run since September as he continues his rehabilitation with the Double-A Trenton Thunder. "Call me James Harden, cause I'm on the Thunder," Rodriguez said after the game. When told that Harden was no longer on the Thunder, Rodriguez quickly added, "that's what I meant." When asked what that meant, Rodriguez said, "You know. You know. That. Just. I know all about basketball. I have friends who play basketball. I'm Alex Rodriguez. And also James Harden. Shut up."
Not to start off all Debbie Downer on you guys, but it's 7:43 p.m. and I'm not feeling too juiced for the Home Run Derby. Yesterday, I compared it to the NBA slam dunk contest in the sense that it gets really repetitive and boring after about 5 to 10 seconds. It's one of those events where everyone tries to overcompensate for the obvious monotony by going hog wild with excitement. It's a little bit like if you were out on a terrible date, and instead of just leaving after an hour, you start laughing hysterically at your own jokes to show the girl how cool you are. And when that doesn't work, you pretend to choke just so she'll have to hug you. We've all been there, right? The Home Run Derby is faking your own imminent death in order to experience brief contact with someone who despises you.
This is getting sad. This is a sad retro diary. I understand now why they fake the energy — it's the only way. Time to switch gears:
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
Prince Fielder hit a record-tying 12 final-round home runs to win his second Home Run Derby and join Ken Griffey Jr. as the only player with multiple titles. He also remains the only prince to ever win a title, following the indecisive performance of Prince Hamlet, who swung way too late, the boring and wordy performance of Prince Valiant, who nobody watched after his first two outs, the threatening counterculture performance of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air from 1990, who used a funky multicolored bat that shocked middle America, the bizarre performance of Prince himself, whose hitting ability is not quantifiable or even recognizable, and the ends-justify-the-means performance of Machiavelli's theoretical prince, who keeps getting banned for trying to use a metal bat.
Here is how you fix the Home Run Derby: Start with an aircraft carrier. Matter of fact, whenever you are "fixing" anything, "start with an aircraft carrier" is always a good jumping-off point. Now you take said aircraft carrier and anchor that bad boy about 350 feet from shore. Not just any shore: Make it a bay that somewhat mirrors the dimensions of a major league baseball park. You see where I am headed with this, don't you? Yep, you're right, the guys on the aircraft carrier have to hit the balls back to land in order to get credit for a home run. Not a bad idea, huh? Well, we aren't done pouring extra awesome sauce on this yet. Every single ball that gets hit off the aircraft carrier has a dollar value, so if you retrieve the ball you can turn it in for a cash prize. Some are worth $500, some are worth $1,000 and the "money ball" is worth $10,000. Now you don't only have the spectacle of the baseballs flying off an aircraft carrier onto the beach, you have the battle for the balls as well. I know what you are thinking: Won't this get ugly? I don't want to watch people tear each other's arms off over a baseball on national television. Fear not: The whole event is recorded, and the stealing of baseballs from the rightful owner (he/she who caught it) will be policed. Are you really going to read this and tell me that this wouldn't drastically increase your interest in the Home Run Derby? If you don't like this idea, you are basically taking a stance against beaches, bikinis, free money, and the United States military. Don't take a stance against beaches, bikinis, free money, and the United States military. That would be dumb.
— David Jacoby