MLB Home Run Derby Chronicle: Volume 1

Scott McGrath@smcgrath5Correspondent IJuly 14, 2009

ST LOUIS, MO - JULY 13:  National League All-Star Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers competes in the third round on his way to winning the State Farm Home Run Derby at Busch Stadium on July 13, 2009 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Well, I just turned on the Home Run Derby right at the beginning of ESPN's coverage, but I can't help to point out that Chris Berman announces the Derby. Why exactly? I think this is his only non-football broadcast in the entirety of ESPN. But, anyway, after Berman just introduced Albert Pujols, I think Ryan Howard's ovation was fairly similar (even though he is a native).

But, here's how this works. There will be a timestamp for each time something notable happens followed by what happened, and, yes, notable is pretty loose here.

8:09PM: I'm pretty sure Joe Morgan just said he won't pick Prince Fielder because his swing is too nice but too hard. Sure, fatigue can play a factor, but isn't that, well, what you want to hit home runs??

8:11PM: Chris Berman let's everyone know that they are probably familiar with the rules of the the Derby, but then struggles through them himself. Uh, Chris, how many times have you been doing this?

I just noticed John Kruk is not here. Is he usually not there??

8:12PM: Apparently, the Home Run Derby is now like the Home Run Challenge in the Bigs. If you hit it to three targets around the field or hit the gold ball, money is raised. Interesting...

8:13PM: Call your shot contest. A tribute to Babe Ruth or an embarrassment to some of these players?
And they have a new Tahoe in the outfield, what happens if Pujols just lines one right into the truck? I mean with Chevy's current state economically, that could be pretty bad.

8:15PM: While waiting for his pitch, I'm pretty sure Pujols just screamed at the pitcher in Spanish. And he's taken about five pitches so far—make that 6—just for the call your shot.

8:17PM: Well, Pujols couldn't call his shot, hit one to the spot but way short, and a bloop to center field. That's why no one calls shots anymore, too risky.

8:18PM: Nice moment as Ozzie Smith throws out the first pitch of the HR Derby to Yadier Molina.

8:19PM: ESPN really must not have much to show, as within 15 minutes, they have showed the lineup twice, a new camera angle, and all the different prizes people can win. 21 minutes in, Nelson Cruz finally steps up.

8:21PM: Cruz hits two straight jacks, but the kids in the outfield are looking a little sparse. Is no one interested in being there?

8:22PM: One of the kids caught a routine fly ball, but lost his hat in the process. Odd.

8:24PM: Found my answer. all the kids are chilling in the bullpen. Wise choice, must be pretty hot.

8:25PM: First mention of Josh Hamilton comes 25 minutes in. I think the over wins on that.

8:26PM: Cruz just hit an absolute moon-shot for his ninth home run to the fourth deck of the stadium. Wow.

8:27PM: Everything is happening at once! First moon-shot, first Hamilton mention, first run-down of Chris Berman references!!! Ahh!

In other news, Cruz finishes his first round with 11 home runs as Josh Hamilton comes out to greet him.

8:28PM: Come on Joe Morgan. Are you really comparing Nelson Cruz's first round performance to Josh Hamilton's last season just because they are both Rangers? Really?

8:30PM: Wait, interviewing Albert Pujols already? Did he win, and Prince Fielder is just taking BP?

8:31PM: In the other bullpen there was a bunch of kids in blue (contrary to all of them in red so far). Now we know where they hide the Cubs fans!

8:33PM: Chris Berman is good with hyperbole. Apparently four first basemen from the NL equals all 15 in the Home Run Derby.

8:37PM: Sorry, no updates for an astounding four minutes.  You only missed eight home runs by Prince Fielder, seven outs, and four minutes of Pujols coaching/interviewing, couldn't tell.

8:38PM: Fielder signals the pitcher to throw it a little lower. Next pitch: 497 foot blast. At least he knows what works.

8:39PM: Why do they have to actually go out and make a ton of gold baseballs for this? It probably costs a lot more than you or I would expect, and signifies....well, a donation? At least Fielder hit one of them out though. The MLB must feel it was a good decision now.

8:40PM: Random, but they just showed a panoramic view of St. Louis after Fielder finished his round with 11 home runs too. St. Louis seems like a nice city. But, to commercials!

8:43PM: That was a really long commercial...mainly about having nightmares about global warming. Odd.

8:44PM: Hey, it's John Kruk! Too bad it's on a commercial. Aww.

8:46PM: Brandon Inge looks pretty uncomfortable out there. Four straight outs. And Joe Morgan remains adamant about his man-crush—uhh, pick—of Ryan Howard.

8:48PM: Apparently ESPN got bored too with night straight outs by Inge, and cut to an interview with Derek Jeter...and Erin Andrews.

8:49PM: Inge thought he had his first home run on the "Gold Ball" but it cut foul quickly. Inge puts up a "nil" in his first round.

8:50PM: Chris Berman just sounded like he had a little too much fun saying the first name of E. Slaughter. And then he said anyone will become a Cardinals fan just after reading a history of the Cardinals. Huh?

8:52PM: Did Joe Buck's HBO special get moved, or is it over already? I mean, it wouldn't really surprise me.

8:53PM: Hey, a Rays fan!

8:55PM: Well, Adrian Gonzalez only puts up a two-spot. The loudest cheer during his whole time up came when a girl in the outfield snagged one of his many line-drives, which unfortunately, won't usually win you a Home Run Derby.

8:56PM: Commercials again. This isn't even out of the first round and ESPN says it will be over in an hour. They lie!

9:00PM: Carlos Pena hits his first home run, followed by another Josh Hamilton mention! Let's see, I think he's at three, and Morneau (last year's winner) has been seen once. Only expected though.

9:03PM: Hamilton just used the phrase "all juiced up" to describe the adrenaline rush of being in the Derby. Double entendre?

9:05PM: One thing about ESPN: when they get a new piece of technology they use it to death. They have mentioned their new "Ball Track" cam that simply lights up the ball green when they sense it has the distance to be a home run about three times an at bat.

9:08PM: I think Steve Phillips just tried to make a pun using Carlos Pena's name, but regardless, Pena is at five home runs on the "gold ball." Last hit is a liner to left field, which starts a brawl between the kids in the outfield. Ron Artest is watching somewhere...smiling.

9:09PM: Now a montage of Hamilton's performance last year. It was truly amazing, but you have to feel bad for Morneau. I mean he won it, and no one will even know that come next year, but I can guarantee you they will still mention Hamilton's performance.

9:12PM: In one commercial break, Biba Golic was mentioned twice. Pretty cool, huh?

9:13PM: Howard takes his turn to a fairly mediocre ovation compared to his first introduction...about an hour ago.

9:16PM: Joe Morgan supports his pick of Howard by explaining a different facet of Howard's game after each home run to show how good he actually is.

9:18PM: Howard is tied with Pena at five home runs with three outs left. Joe Morgan says, "Well, he definitely needs one more I think."

9:26PM: Wow, long time no update. Sorry, got kind of boring, although Joe Mauer is at three home runs, pretty close to Howard's pace. Who would of guessed (not Joe Morgan!)?

9:28PM: ESPN's ball-track high-lighting system just lost Mauer's ball. Way to inform me if it was a home run or not. That's what happens when you use it on every pitch.

9:29PM: Mauer just hit, according to ESPN, a 417 foot line drive to right field that WASN'T a home run? Am I missing something? But, Mauer finishes with five home runs, as Albert Pujols is set to come up for the first time. You can feel the anticipation in the air. Well, not really, but I think Steve Phillips is getting excited.

9:31PM: I just realized I missed the celebrities game! What a bummer. At least Biba Golic was mentioned again.

9:35PM: Tension already in St. Louis as Albert (the Machine!!!) had two outs, but then he belts one to left field (why didn't you eliminate it Albert?).

9:37PM: Pujols has 5 outs and only 1 home run. Uh oh.

9:39PM: Get the replay going! Did that hit the top of the wall or was it gone?! Where's Bud Selig?!?

9:42PM: ESPN360 broke on me, so I have no idea what's going on. Great.

9:46PM: Well, Pujols apparently hit two more home runs in his last out to tie Pena and Mauer. So, we are into a 3-man swing off, and Pena currently is at one home run.

9:47PM: Attention all lexicographers: Chris Berman and Joe Morgan have added a new word to the dictionary: "bat-off." That is all.

9:49PM: Pena only gets one home run as Berman uses "bat-off" again. Joe Morgan gets confused about the "bat-off" thinking it was 5 outs, not 5 swings. Joe Mauer comes back up and sympathizes with the catcher who has been sitting there for about an hour now (Can you even call that sitting? Maybe we can call it "Bagwelling?").

9:52PM: Mauer finishes the "bat-off" that Chris Berman has become infatuated with saying without a home run. Albert Pujols steps up to the plate again, as Joe Morgan calls a "bat-off" round two. And just to prevent a further mishap, Berman explains to him that it's only 3 swings. All clear now for the next round.

9:54PM: Pujols goes Happy Gilmore-esque with the pre-leg-kick during the swing. Surprisingly (or perhaps unsurprisingly if you have watched the movie), he hits two straight home runs to get to the next round.

9:59PM: These commercial breaks get longer and longer. Tough economy, or does it take the make-up artists that long, even when the announcers are barely on camera?

10:01PM: I'm pretty sure the listing said this would be over already. Oh well. Not like there is any other sport that has any kind of chance of being televised that is on. Oh, and Pujols just hit his first home run of the second round.

10:06PM: Pujols rallying with only two outs remaining but still needs two more home runs to even tie the leaders (and they still have to go). Looking gloomy for St. Louis.

10:08PM: Pujols was drenched in sweat as he hit his last out. He finishes with 11 home runs, which is what Cruz and Fielder are at. Seems like a long-shot at this point.

10:11PM: Howard hits his first home run after two outs and Joe Morgan explodes into a "Why do you think I chose him?" Okay Joe. We get it. You like him and you think he will win.

10:14PM: Howard is looking tired. Swing is getting weaker and he's taking more time in between pitches. Oh, I'm not kidding, he just said, "I'm tired man." But, then he hits his third home run of the round. Go figure. Followed by his fourth!

10:16PM: Joe Morgan stating the obvious. Howard hits his twelfth home run: "This makes him the leader in the [theoretical] clubhouse."

10:18PM: OK, this is becoming a diary of Joe Morgan. First of all, with one out left, Morgan says if Howard can get four more home runs, he will be in good shape. Then, he hits one, and Joe Morgan says it's gone, no it's not, yes it is, oh it's gone!

10:20PM: Well, Howard puts on a streak of three straight with only one out left. That pretty much eliminates Pujols, pending a miracle.

10:26PM: Commercials finally end at six minutes. I'm pretty sure that's a record for the night.

10:27PM: I think Chris Berman and Joe Morgan are getting bored. Amidst Nelson Cruz's turn, they seem to be planning their next vacation.

10:30PM: Nelson Cruz clinches a spot in the final round by getting his 16th home run, and Albert Pujols is officially out of contention. Only Prince Fielder is left in the second round, and he will need five5 home runs to get to the final round.

10:33PM: Fielder looks gassed. Hit three quick outs. Maybe Joe Morgan was right? Nah, he just nailed one to straight center field.

10:35PM: Back, back, back, back, back, back! Name that announcer!

10:36PM: Prince Fielder advances to the final round against Nelson Cruz with a 488-foot home run, followed by a 503-foot home run. Did I say he was gassed? My mistake.

10:37PM: Joe Morgan trying to defend himself now. He says that Fielder puts so much into every swing, that he tires himself out, which is why he didn't think he will win, but he says he still looks pretty fresh. In other words, you were wrong, right?

10:39PM: 160 minutes in, and finally we arrive at the final round between Prince Fielder and Nelson Cruz. Man, I feel bad. This is a lot longer than it needs to be. But, off to more commercials. 7 minutes now?

10:44PM: Ah, well, we were close. But, back to the Derby! Now, can anyone explain to me why this is taking just as long as an actual game does? Not seeing the reasoning.

10:45PM: Joe Morgan just called Prince Fielder his pick. Am I missing something? And then he gives Cruz the edge. What? Pick a side Joe!

10:47PM: That was an inside pitch to Cruz. I wonder if anyone has been hit by a pitch during the Home Run Derby? How ironic would that be, but yet, oh so realistic?

10:48PM: One of the cameramen who was working the ESPN desk just got hit by a foul ball. Ouch. Why exactly is the ESPN booth on the field though?

10:51PM: Cruz finishes his final round with five home runs. Can Fielder match that, even though he looks a little fatigued? But, to more commercials. Oh boy.

10:56PM: Commercials seem to average five minutes per. I think that's close to what the US Open does in an hour. I guess when nothing else is going on people will sit through this many commercials. Anyway, here comes Prince, who needs six home runs this round to win the Derby!

11:00PM: Prince Fielder just hit an absolute MOONSHOT to tie Nelson Cruz at five home runs with 6 outs left. Let's see what happens! Could it be-dare I say it—a "bat-off?" (I can see Chris Berman smiling from here).

11:02PM: Prince Fielder is the Home Run Derby champion as he hits a long-shot straight to center-field. Ryan Braun runs out to congratulate him, as Nelson Cruz looks on gloomily.

So that happened. 182 minutes of home runs, Chris Berman's antics, and more. Congratulations to Prince Fielder on winning the Derby as he gets set for the All Star Game tomorrow.

I'm still shocked that Pujols struggled the way he did, and then the only other St. Louis favorite didn't make the finals either. Busch Stadium quieted down a lot after that, only until Fielder won though.

Well, Brewers fans can rejoice in their derby victory, but I think I'm going to try to forget what a "bat-off" is and prepare for the All-Star Game.

Oh, and here's a preview of our up and coming "MailTime" segment:

Who do you think will be the MLB All-Star Game MVP?

Well, I'm usually pretty nervous when it comes to actually deciding a winner in the All-Star Game, even though the AL has dominated for years now. It's virtually a toss-up for both sides with the great rosters, so I will give you an MVP from each team, and we will see what happens.

If the NL wins, I think the MVP will be Albert Pujols. Not only is the game in St. Louis so he gets a bit of home field advantage, but he is the best player in baseball right now. If the NL produces in the game tomorrow, it will be because of Pujols. He is just that good.

If the AL wins, I think the MVP will be Ichiro Suzuki. Now, I know this is kind of a long-shot, but Ichiro is a do-it-all player, who can hit home runs, get hit hits, steal bases, and play extremely solid defense.

No doubt will he produce in the game tomorrow, but I don't feel he will get the MVP if the AL does not win, simply because I think Pujols has the absolute advantage.

That concludes this whole wrap-up. Tune in to the All-Star Game tomorrow night!


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