What makes the Home Run Derby isn't, simply, home runs. Because there was a point during the long broadcast, as guys homered ho-hum homers, I turned to my wife and said: “I'm bored.”
What makes the Home Run Derby is the homers that make you go “Whoa!” And maybe not even with the exclamation point. More of a stunned: “Whoa.”
And that's why Vladimir Guerrero Jr. “won” the home run Derby, even though he didn't win. Pete Alonso won the most rounds of the Derby with homers; Guerrero hit the most whoa-mers.
I actually hadn't tuned into the Home Run Derby in a few years. I'd been Chris Berman'd out. Found the telecast loooooong (now, it's just long). But wanted to give it a shot, and overall, found the spectacle-homers irresistible on Monday night.
As Karl Ravech said on the broadcast, there was a lot of “scoreboard watching.” And that wasn't in reference to the home run tally – it was in reference to these Guerrero moonshots that soared toward the scoreboard itself, which, in some cool M.C. Escher-like visual, showed the the live video of Guerrero watching the homer nearly hit the videoboard of him watching the homer.
The Blue Jays' Guerrero, who can legally drink a Labatt's in America on March 16, 2020, hit the most overall homers on the night (91). Per Statcast, he hit the longest homer of the Derby (488 feet). And he hit the mos 450-plus homers (17!).
The evening was a blast of blasts. As @NotKenWilliams joked on Twitter, “Chris Berman would have run out of Cleveland suburbs 60 home runs ago.”
Alonso was cool, too – “The Polar Bear” spread the baseballs diplomatically to left, center and right.
His enthusiasm was authentic and his flair for the dramatic was lit. He was humble, donating some of his winnings to charity. And, in an accidental commentary on the modern game, the first-year player made more money winning the Home Run Derby than he will all season as a major league player.
Other Derby awesomeness: Ronald Acuna Jr. blowing a bubble while hitting a homer; Joc Pederson getting advice from his brother; the young Toronto fan rubbing Guerrero's shoulders; Pederson hitting the rare baseball “buzzer beater” homer; Clayton Kershaw admitting on the broadcast that his family hustled back once Joc started blasting the balls; the look on the fans' faces when they caught home runs (on the one night it's acceptable for adults to bring gloves to the ballpark); and while the players hit robotic homers, the event led to the “un-roboting” of their personalities. Hats off, smiles wide, the ballplayers showed their emotions, splashed their enthusiasm.
Makes you wish that Marcell Ozuna hadn't gotten hurt, because you wonder if the Cardinals' slugger otherwise would've been in the Derby.
In the end, Alonso won the Derby, Guerrero won the night.
Or, as @MooseT187 and many joked on Twitter, “Alonso won the home run electoral college.”
For a night, Guerrero was the new "Junior."
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