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Glorified Batting Practice
2008-07-14 15:43
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

ESPN will broadcast the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium at 8pm tonight. It will be the first and last Home Run Derby in the Stadium's history as the Derby only dates back to 1985 and Yankee Stadium last hosted the All-Star Game in 1977.

The balls for the Derby tend to be a bit juiced, so it's quite possible that there will be balls hit to previously unreached portions of the park tonight. If you follow the link above, you'll find a video that shows where the furthest-hit balls in this decade's Derbies would have landed in Yankee Stadium. A several of them would have landed safely in the left field bleachers, a section that's only been reached once during a game, and one would have hit off the wall behind those bleachers.

Unfortunately, none of the seven hitters responsible for the blasts in that video will be participating tonight. In fact, if you look at the top home run totals over the 2004 to 2007 seasons, Lance Berkman is the only member of the top 10 who will be taking his hacks tonight, and the next participant on the list is Justin Morneau all the way down at 27th.

Then again, very few of the men on that list are even on an All-Star roster this year. David Ortiz tops the list, but is injured and can't play. Alex Rodriguez is second, but won't participate in the Derby out of fear of messing up his swing. Albert Pujols is third, but won't be participating either. Nor will Manny Ramirez, who is tied for eighth with the injured Alfonso Soriano, who joins Ortiz on the All-Star DL. Next comes Berkman, then Aramis Ramirez (another non-participant) at 12th, but there's not one 2008 All-Star between Ramirez and Morneau at 27th. Still, Morneau is tied with Chipper Jones, and Matt Holliday (30) and Miguel Tejada (32) are hot on his heals, and none of them are participating, either. Chase Utley (38) is the only other member of the top 50 who is.

So instead of Ortiz, Pujols, Rodriguez, Manny, Soriano, Aramis, Chipper, Holliday, or 2004 Derby champ Tejada, we get rookie Evan Longoria, sophomores Ryan Braun and Josh Hamilton, Marlins' second baseman Dan Uggla, and Indians' center fielder Grady Sizmore. Sizemore is leading the AL in homers thus far and Hamilton is third, but the next Derby participant on that list is 14th-place Longoria. The NL is better represented with third-place Utley, fourth-placers Braun and Uggla, and fifth-place Berkman. Still, the field feels decidedly weak.

Part of that is due to the fact that there are no Yankees participating, nor any Red Sox for that matter (rivalry be damned, I'd love to see Ortiz take his hacks tonight). Jason Giambi said he would participate if the fans voted him into the final spot on the AL roster, but he lost that vote to Longoria and, given the rest of the break off, has declined to show up as a non-All-Star for the Derby. Derek Jeter would only have further weakened the field. That left it to Rodriguez, but I find his refusal admirable. It shows that he's putting his regular season performance, and thus his team, ahead of the meaningless individual attention brought on by the Derby. It also indicates that he was unwilling to enter the Derby as a pinstriped token, half-ass the first round, and let the kids battle it out. If he was going to participate, he was going to try to win. Still, having him watch from the sidelines will undermine the excitement of the actual event.

So, I can't say I'm particularly excited to watch tonight's Derby, and that's not just because someone else is sitting in my usual bleacher seats and could go home with a ball. It's more because there's no one in this Derby I'm particularly excited to see swing for the fences with the possible exception of Braun, who will be somewhat handicapped by being right-handed (he and Longoria are the only righties in the competition). My guess is it will come down to Utley and Berkman, with Berkman winning the thing, which he nearly did in 2004 when the event was held in his home ballpark. He hit righty then in order to take aim at Houston's Crawford Boxes. I assume he'll hit from the left side tonight and aim for that short porch, which was designed for this sort of thing more than 85 years ago.

Comments (80)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2008-07-14 16:23:21
1.   williamnyy23
I love the HR Derby and the All Star Game, and have been eagerly looking forward to both since the Stadium was awarded the event, but I have to admit that the poor play of the Yankees has really diminsihed things for me. This first half has been one to forget, but it's hard to do that with the ASG being on the Yankees home field. Oh well.
2008-07-14 16:27:36
2.   Cliff Corcoran
Am I the only one for whom the ASG etc. feels less special being in Yankee Stadium? It's like going camping in your own back yard. Even watching the 1977 All-Star Game, it felt more like a charity event than the Mid-Summer Classic due to the familiar surroundings. I guess it's that the idea behind the game is giving fans an opportunity to see the players and ballparks they might not otherwise see. Playing it at Yankee stadium with an infield full of Yankees and Red Sox doesn't quite fulfill that goal for me (of course I just complained about the lack of Yanks and Sox in the Derby, so maybe I'm full of it already).
2008-07-14 16:32:54
3.   Bluebleeder87
ESPN is really playing it up (yankee stadium last year...) I'm kind of eating it up for some reason.
2008-07-14 16:58:43
4.   JL25and3
Funny, it would never have occurred to me to watch the Home Run Derby.

I think the All-Star Game itself is a pointless waste of time, but at least I understand why people watch it. I don't get the appeal of the Home Run Derby at all.

2008-07-14 17:03:41
5.   williamnyy23
2 I am in the other boat. It feels more special because you get to see your home in the spotlight. With the proliferation of media content, everyone has pretty much seen every player and every stadium anyway. What I haven't seen is a HR Derby and an ASG in the same place I've seen hundreds of games. Also, having tickets for tomorrow makes it feel special that the game in so close to home.
2008-07-14 17:04:44
6.   Chyll Will
2 To me it feels like someone closing the public pool in your neighborhood for a private party. Or, perhaps, having a football fan giving a municipally-sanctioned performance of crap-rock on a previously off-limits section of Central Park for a baseball game?

Now if only they can get Tiger Woods to sing the National Anthem, The Pussycat Dolls for "YMCA' and maybe whoever the hell won American Idol for "God Bless America"...

(and don't forget Celine Dion for "Cotton-Eye Joe"!) >;)

2008-07-14 17:04:55
7.   williamnyy23
4 I know I am a dying breed, but I love the ASG and really enjoy the HR derby. It's baseball for fun...I don't understand why so many people fail to embrace that. Of course, that's coming from someone who has every ASG since 1972 on DVD.
2008-07-14 17:05:14
8.   JL25and3
2 I find it particularly not-special because I work a few blocks away from the Stadium, roughly across from where the House of Detention used to be. Today was pretty much of a pain in the ass; I expect tomorrow to be a nightmare.
2008-07-14 17:06:37
9.   williamnyy23
Damn...I thought we were going to be spared Chris Berman.
2008-07-14 17:07:02
10.   JL25and3
7 I don't think you're a dying breed; plenty of people still like it. It stopped seeming like "baseball for fun" the second I saw Pete Rose slam into Ray Fosse.
2008-07-14 17:07:20
11.   Mattpat11
Sizemore's my sleeper pick.
2008-07-14 17:08:45
12.   Mattpat11
Did they have to remind me of that MVP selection? Still the worst I can recall.
2008-07-14 17:10:24
13.   Chyll Will
5 I say William, you've got your peanut butter in my chocolate!
2008-07-14 17:11:53
14.   JL25and3
12 I think Yvonne Rodriguez was worse.
2008-07-14 17:12:41
15.   williamnyy23
12 14 As much as Jeter has been considered overrated in many corners, he has been robbed of 2 MVP awards.
2008-07-14 17:13:18
16.   williamnyy23
Looking at the contestants kind of makes me miss steroids!
2008-07-14 17:17:08
17.   Chyll Will
16 Lamb chops and whole milk have the same effects, from what it seems...
2008-07-14 17:20:30
18.   Chyll Will
8 I pray for you, man...
2008-07-14 17:31:33
19.   JL25and3
15 I don't know if I think Jeter was robbed in 1999. He was clearly better than Rodriguez, but so were about 8 other guys. It wouldn't have been a crime if it had gone to Pedro or Manny or Roberto Alomar or Nomar or Bernie or...
2008-07-14 17:35:28
20.   Mattpat11
15 If they gave that award to Mauer, it would have been perfectly acceptable to me. Morneau was a hideous choice.
2008-07-14 17:37:25
21.   Bluebleeder87
7

I think it's o.k. & all but it gets kind of boring when the AL wins all the time.

2008-07-14 17:39:09
22.   OldYanksFan
Anybody see the comment from Papsmear? Un-fuckin-believable! Check out Lohud. What a total asshole.
2008-07-14 17:39:21
23.   Bluebleeder87
the HR derby was cool a few years back when every body was juicing, I still watch it & think it's o.k.
2008-07-14 17:41:52
24.   Mattpat11
I'd like to think Longoria is a little bit better than Bobby Crosby
2008-07-14 17:42:26
25.   OldYanksFan
21 When I was a kid, the NL won all the time. An outfield of Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente was pretty cool.

The games were MUCH better in those days. They were not near as commercial, and were handled as baseball games as opposed to events. Many starters played the entire game. It was very competitive.

2008-07-14 17:44:41
26.   OldYanksFan
Evan Longoria looks to me to be like a young ARod. Same build, all tools, excellent D. The kid is the real deal.
2008-07-14 17:49:57
27.   Mattpat11
Manny DOES NOT APPROVE
2008-07-14 17:50:56
28.   OldYanksFan
It would be nice to see Giambi here. Glad ARod is NOT doing it.
2008-07-14 17:51:40
29.   Mattpat11
28 I'm fine with neither one doing it.
2008-07-14 18:01:45
30.   Chyll Will
22 What's really funny is that the comments stayed focused and tolerable for nearly 50 posts. Even fools know better than to say something like that. REGGIE wouldn't even say something like that... >;)
2008-07-14 18:17:20
31.   Chyll Will
Hmm... interesting rant about diversity (or lack thereof) in a meaningless sideshow like this. However, did it occur to him (whoever that was) that maybe, just maybe, they're like anyone else and declined to participate due to what would likely happen to their swing? Even I don't think there was a thought towards leaving certain people out. Is this show really that boring??

OK, I'm done with this, I shouldn't watch/listen to E@$% for this long...

2008-07-14 18:24:41
32.   das411
31 - So can next year's HRD just be glorified target practice with Rick Reilly as the target?
2008-07-14 18:32:15
33.   Mattpat11
Jesus Christ
2008-07-14 18:32:19
34.   williamnyy23
31 If Reilly would have bothered to look, he'd see that 6 of the top-8 HR hitters in the NL are white. Considering that Howard wasn't named to the team, that would leave only Hanley Ramirez left out. In the AL, Morneau and Longoria may not have been the best choices, but 7 of the top 11 HR hitters didn't make the team, Arod opted out and I am sure Manny did the same. Oh yeah, Mr. Reilly, I don't know what Grady Sizemore is, but I don't think he is just another white guy.

That was a pretty patheric comment. I wouldn't be surprised if we don't hear from him again.

2008-07-14 18:32:55
35.   williamnyy23
Hamilton is hitting balls to parts of the ballpark that I have never seen before.
2008-07-14 18:34:52
36.   williamnyy23
Hamilton has Bonds-like power. His performance is what makes the HR derby worthwhile.
2008-07-14 18:39:56
37.   Mattpat11
Good fucking lord
2008-07-14 18:40:01
38.   williamnyy23
This is really an amazing performance...to the back of the black!
2008-07-14 18:40:38
39.   vockins
Josh Hamilton is straight up bonkers.
2008-07-14 18:41:38
40.   weeping for brunnhilde
22 Wow, what a great ass.

What an unmitigated bozo clown man.

2008-07-14 18:41:40
41.   vockins
Holy christ, he could totally get it out.
2008-07-14 18:41:41
42.   das411
GOOD LORD can this guy hit!
2008-07-14 18:48:22
43.   Mattpat11
That last one was six inches off the plate.
2008-07-14 18:49:34
44.   williamnyy23
That was awesome. Man am I glad he isn't still with the Rays.
2008-07-14 18:51:38
45.   Alex Belth
That was SPECIAL. Talk about a gift from God. Screw Roy Hobbs that kid is the NATURAL. Staggering and a pleasure to behold.
2008-07-14 18:52:29
46.   Mattpat11
12 456 feet of homeruns
2008-07-14 18:54:11
47.   SF Yanks
Nothing beats baseball. I sure hope he wins now. It would be kind of a shame if he didn't.
2008-07-14 18:55:25
48.   Raf
40 Wow, what a great ass.

Don't think Mrs. OldYanksFan appreciates you commenting on her man's posterior :)

2008-07-14 18:57:08
49.   Alex Belth
That was fitting of Cliff's title, that WAS GLORIFIED BP
2008-07-14 18:57:11
50.   cult of basebaal
i just spent the last 20 minutes glued to the tv, watching batting practice and words fail me. that was awesome. that was a moment.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2008-07-14 18:59:48
51.   OldYanksFan
48 Actually, initially I thought he was responding to 39 . Twas a moment of discomfort.
2008-07-14 19:00:44
52.   Mattpat11
This is boring. More Hamilton.
2008-07-14 19:02:13
53.   cult of basebaal
anyone else catch the tidbit about hamilton's BP pitcher? this is only the 2nd time he's been to yankee stadium. the first? in the stands for don larsen's perfect game.
2008-07-14 19:02:42
54.   dianagramr
can you point me to reilly's comments ... I missed it ...

oh, and Papelbon needs a history lesson

2008-07-14 19:03:14
55.   Just fair
Man, I'm out to dinner with the wife for our anniversary, then we go into Blockbuster to get a movie. Josh hamilton is on his 7th homer on the car radio when we go in. When I restart the car, the announcers are going bonkers over his 25th homer. I said, "Holy shit, he's still hitting." His average homer was @ 420 feet. Hot damn and well played, Josh. Even my better half was impressed as we got to listen to the rest of the Josh Hamilton show.
2008-07-14 19:11:20
56.   williamnyy23
54 He basically said why are we watching 8 white guys when several recent champions were latino. He also ranted about Howard's exclusion until Ravich explained that Howard didn't make the team.
2008-07-14 19:11:58
57.   Mattpat11
56 It was awkward
2008-07-14 19:15:31
58.   williamnyy23
Can they please pull the plug on Rick Reilly's mike. Reilly's ability to make me miss Berman is even more amazing than Hamilton's performance.
2008-07-14 19:15:31
59.   51cq24
who just said "it's a lousy night to be an atheist"?
2008-07-14 19:15:57
60.   dianagramr
56

thanks .... and now it seems like he is continuing to stick his foot in his mouth ....

"its a lousy night if you're an Atheist ..."

Good gosh .... Reilly must be nuts!

2008-07-14 19:21:24
61.   dianagramr
that ESPN Ombusman Schreiber is gonna have a very full in-box tomorrow ...

She JUST posted a column in which she brought up two recent instances of ESPN reporters making stupid/insensitive remarks in columns or on the air.

Wonder what Reilly's behavior will make her say?

2008-07-14 19:23:22
62.   williamnyy23
Hysterical...some one holds up the sign *Where's Barry, and ESPN immediately cut away.
2008-07-14 19:27:45
63.   das411
Anybody who hasn't read it already needs to check out the Hamilton SI article:

http://tinyurl.com/3jpsuf

kind of lengthy but well worth it!

2008-07-14 19:28:10
64.   51cq24
oh yeah reilly? well the jerk store called, and they're running out of you
2008-07-14 19:28:10
65.   OldYanksFan
Josh is standing next to Morneau. Justin is taller, but Hamilton's upper body is huge in comparison.
2008-07-14 19:31:21
66.   dianagramr
Bennett should have called for an inside-the-park job ...
2008-07-14 19:41:16
67.   Mattpat11
If Morneau wins this, they'll give him the MVP.
2008-07-14 19:44:17
68.   Just fair
45 Josh should bang one off the light stanchion above the right field upper deck seats, though. Just for kicks. : }
2008-07-14 19:45:51
69.   dianagramr
68

josh should aim for reilly

2008-07-14 19:50:48
70.   OldYanksFan
he's trying too hard...
2008-07-14 19:50:56
71.   Mattpat11
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
2008-07-14 19:52:19
72.   Mattpat11
Well, that was a buzzkill.
2008-07-14 19:52:40
73.   das411
Awwww way to screw up everything again Morneau!
2008-07-14 19:54:09
74.   Mattpat11
I have no desire to see Morneau's ceremony. I'll watch Raw.
2008-07-14 19:54:51
75.   OldYanksFan
It just shows you how much of hitting is mental. As soon as he started pressing, he was way off. He did hit 2 shots off the top of the wall.
2008-07-14 19:58:02
76.   tommyl
Damnit I just got home. Is there footage of the shot out of the stadium online anywhere?
2008-07-14 20:07:38
77.   cult of basebaal
76 well, considering it didn't happen ... no.
2008-07-14 20:44:00
78.   Andre
check the different versions of Pap's statement.

exhibit 1: Lohud

exhibit 2: Boston.com (http://tinyurl.com/67g6uh)

Seems like the Boston site (part owned by the Red Sox via their part ownership in the Boston Globe) did a little creative reporting. Word of his assitude probably got back to him and he tried to make it right.

2008-07-14 22:03:11
79.   Schteeve
I don't get the outrage about Papelbon. He's immature for sure, and he's a cocky douche, but he is an outstanding pitcher, and he's obviously very competitive. So he thinks he should close tomorrow. So what, he won't, it won't be his decision. But he'd be an idiot to demure, given that he pitches for the Sox' ARCH RIVAL.

I don't like him, but I don't think he's a serial killer either, and I think a lot of Yankee Fans actually like serial killers better than they like Papelbon.

2008-07-15 04:57:08
80.   OldYanksFan
79 Schteeve...
1) Mo is the best of all time
2) The game is being played in YS in the final year of YS
3) MO HAS MUCH BETTER NUMBERS THEN PAPS RIGHT NOW (Mo: 1.06/0.64. Paps: 2.43/0.96)

The problem for Paps is, there is simply absolutely NO SANE REASON why he should close.

If he did say he SHOULD close, it was an alltime selfish, stupid, egomaniacal statement. Morneau won the HRD, yet he said he was lucky and deferred to Hamilton's great performane. All athletes want to win, want to 'get the ball', but that doesn't justify the shear gall of Paps statement.

HEY!!!!!!
We ain't gonna let the Banter die for these next 3 days, are we? We have much to discuss:

1) I say put together a package for Jason Bay. He is the kind of player we need NOW AND in the future.

2) ESPN.com news services: "Rodriguez [K-Rod] said in February that the 2008 season was "probably" his last in L.A. Several days after that statement, the Angels beat the All-Star closer in a salary arbitration case. Rodriguez is receiving $10 million this season rather than his request for $12.5 million."

Would he set-up for Mo for a year or 2 in order to be a Yankee and inherit Mo's role? That would be a devastating 1-2. (Hate to say we don't want the Sox to get him).

Josh Hamilton won't be a FA until 2013. I believe he is the real deal. At 27, he is 'late to the game' and won't be a FA until he's 32. But man.... if he keeps his head straight and body healthy he is going to be a force. I wonder if the Rangers will put on a big rush to build a team around him while they still have him. Texas is 4 games over .500, although theis RS/RA is -21.

Oakland is tied with us for the WC. They have the best pitching in the league, but the second worst OPS at .699. Are they going to hang around? Man... talk about an example of 'Pitching and Defense' wins!

The Big Hurt, who Toronto 'let go', has an OPS of meerly .933. Brilliant move by the Canadians.

When all is said and done, we are in 4th place in the WC, only 5.5 games out. Who wudda thunk we would be chasing TB, Minn. and Oakland?

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