Monday, July 9, 2007

The Home-run Derby

Below are my impressions of one of the most out-and-out fun events in pro sports.

7:02 p.m. -- Ugh! Wrong-footed start, there. The Counting Crows played one of their narcotic hits before a deep-voiced announcer thundered about the importance of the Derby over a flashy graphics package.

7:04 -- The contestants jog in from center field. Chris Berman does his best Michael Buffer impression announcing them. "Llllet's get ready to rumble..." It turns out he's doing stand-up from near the pitcher's mound. He pulls a Giants hat (along with some cheap applause) from his back pocket and...

7:10 -- Hey, it's Willie McCovey, walking on those wrist crutches! Poor guy. He ceremonially doles out the contender's bats. How cool; Willie McCovey! It'd be like getting your six-shooter from Wyatt Earp!

7:11 -- Oh, and there's Joe Morgan. And Dusty Baker. Let's see some freaking home runs!

7:13 -- *Sigh.* Here's Kenny Mayne in a kayak. How cutesy. What the hell is he talking about with cameras?

7:15 -- Berman picks Albert Pujols to win the thing, even though he hasn't hit a home run since about mid-June. Reminds me of Krusty moaning "I thought the Generals were due!" Multi-hued kayaks and other craft in McCovey Cove look like massive spill of Mike and Ikes.

7:18 -- Justin Morneau stands in, and we're finally underway. He pulls three hard line drives towards right, then smacks one out of the deepest part of the park in right-center. Morneau doesn't look all that comfortable, recording three more outs in a row.

7:21 -- Spoke too soon! An absolute laser beam out to right, which looked like it could have seriously injured skulls. Unfortunately, he manages only two more, including a nice shot on the "gold ball" to dead center. Not bad.

7:27 -- Ravech and Kruk and that guy I care even less about are still talking earnestly about Morneau's swing. Alright, here's Matt Holliday of the Rockies who has two before I can grab a beer, and then accidentally taps the catcher with his follow through. Whoops, make it three, with four a truly titanic shot that goes over the foul pole. He is, as Berman and company point out, a very large young man, with muscles like hydraulic pumps, but, with another accidental(?) tap of the catcher's helmet, he bows out with five.

7:35 -- Magglio Ordonez is hitting, and the sound is still that of Barry Bonds' suspiciously high-pitched voice as he gives a plaintive interview! What a slight! Who cares what Bonds (who is not participating in the derby) has to say about Bud Selig? Ok, point taken; Ordonez is lucky to come away with two.

7:44 -- Update update update plug for Bronx is Burning series, and we're finally back. Albert Pujols immediately hits a thunderous 432-footer to center. And once again, why is there an interview going on over the main event? I mean, I'm well aware that there isn't all that much to talk about -- "He hit it out!" "He didn't hit it out!" -- but still, unless ESPN really wanted to share A-Rod's thoughts on the records that he hasn't set yet, why graft it on to the Home Run Derby? By the way, Pujols cools off to end up with four.

7:53 -- Alex Rios starts, as many of them have, strong. Joe Morgan still singing the praises of A-Rod for reasons beyond understanding. Rios still hitting the ball hard with six outs, but as the crew points out, this is a bad ballpark for home runs.

8:05 -- That does it, I'm way too steamed at ESPN. I don't want this post to end up looking like something out of Chuck Palahniuk.

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