Re-live the absurdity that was the Major League Baseball Home Run Derby. Chris Berman "back" counter included.
8:01 And we're live… with an uncomfortable second base performance by Jason Aldean. Don't worry, I have no idea who he is, either. Apparently, the song is called "It's My Kind of Party." Looks that way, one player's kid is covering his ears.
8:04 Cue Berman, standing on home plate with Saturn's rings wrapped around his neck. Wait, nope, just a tie.
He's pumping up the crowd WWE style: "Are we ready?" Elevated crickets at best.
8:10 After introducing the lineup, Boomer turns it over to John Kruk and Nomar Garciaparra. Nomar comments that the players came out of the dugout "sweaty," indicating that they must be ready for the event. It's 100 degrees in Phoenix. That could be a factor, as well.
John Kruk: "You don't understand the intensity that's down here."
No, we do. Anyone who has ever watched a heated bingo night has experienced this cauldron of anticipation. B 7, B 7. The letter B and the number 7. B 7.
8:12 This is always my favorite part: Pedro Gomez introduces kids from a local Boys and Girls Clubs. Tonight's donation will be determined by an arbitrary home run hitting contest. Sometimes life ain't fair, kids.
8:15 Cal Ripken to throw out first pitch. Congrats, Cal, this is old-timer life. After a brief debate, baseball's Iron Man throws it from the mound. Would we have it any other way?
8:16 Big Papi replaces Robinson Cano with Adrian Gonzalez in the leadoff spot. The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry never dies.
8:18 Nomar comments on the players' forearm muscles. Did somebody say performance enhancing drugs? No? OK.
8:21 Nomar: "I really like the mentality both sides are showing."
That was after one pitch. One. It's 8:21 and we're just now getting underway. Can you feel the excitement?
8:21 First home run of the night, ESPN debuts new distance counter, which appears in ball's landing spot. Nice. Subtle, simple, useful. – politely claps –
8:22 POOL SHOT!!!! Gets a "splashdown" from Boom. We're off to a roaring start.
8:25 We're five outs in and not a single "back back" from Berman. This may be a conscious effort.
8:26 Never mind. Three "backs." Over/under is 72.
8:26 I'm pretty sure Heath Bell, who is sitting at the announcer's table, just said "I'm taping this shit at home." He was bleeped. The Chase Utley HR Derby Delay Corollary makes its first contribution of the night. Chase: The gift who keeps on giving.
8:28 Gold ball worth $150. Apparently, there is actually gold in the ball. The children from the Boys and Girls Clubs look on in horror. Back home they play with a rubber coated sphere of duct tape.
8:29 Adrian Gonzalez finishes with nine home runs. A solid start from the favorite. Replay shows that his pool ball actually missed the drink. A silent hush falls over the forlorn booth.
8:31 Matt Holliday is up. He's wearing light blue shoes that make it look like he just curb-stomped a Smurf. Poor Papa.
8:35 That was quick. Holiday finishes with five home runs. Must be the shoes.
8:41 Here comes Robinson Cano, who picked his father, Jose, to pitch to him. Brilliant. The early leader for the Josh Hamilton Heartstring Pitcher Selection award.
8:43 Four more "backs."
8:43 "This one is up to the space station." – Chris Berman
8:43 Shane Victorino! They ask him to explain his injury, tripping in Toronto. Poor fella, all he can do is laugh, ya know? Absolutely.
8:47 Victo jokes that none of these kids catching balls in outfield have fallen, yet. Touche.
Berman tells us that Victo is in the Hawaii record books for longest field goal kicked. Soo… there's that.
8:49 Oh WHAT A GRAB! Lanky teen just made the play of the year, laying out for an exhibition contest pop out. Flat out laid out for that thing. Sign him up, Rube. Sign him up now!
That reminds me, I always wondered how they chose the kids to shag these fly balls. There are about 50 of them, aged 6-18, scrambling around the outfield like a zealous militia chasing the UN food copter. There's nothing orderly about this. Nothing. Boys tripping on girls, shoving, collisions. One of these days someone is going to get one right in the teeth.
8:51 Jose Reyes, er, Rickie Weeks walks up to the plate… with different shoes (one smurf, one black), kissing his platinum cross. God wants you to win this, Rickie.
Reader Dan says, "Why is Larry Fitzgerald in the HR Derby?"
8:55 Pedro Gomez takes a break from covering Barry Bonds and latino issues to interview Prince Fielder for a few. Reader Mike comments that Fielder's kid looks like Sideshow Bob. Well, alright then.
8:55 Four more "backs." Three total home runs for Weeks. That might be the first ever positive back-to-home run ratio in Derby history. The cauldron is percolating, folks. Who knew that a contact-hitting second basemen would fail miserably in a home run hitting competition? Somewhere, Justin Upton is shanking Fielder.
8:59 Reader Pete wants to know what's the deal with the tall kid (one who made the diving grab) outrunning jerks in the outfield. Donald Trump would like to see your birth certificate, Gumby.
8:59 ESPN is already running an "Edge of Glory" Women's World Cup montage from the USA's improbable comeback. Two things: 1) I told you that song was poised to take over the sports anthem category 2) ESPN already placed the last minute tying goal at number five on its countdown of most dramatic moments in sports history. Really? We're going to throw a Women's quarterfinal soccer match into the top five? Not even just a two day buffer to gather ourselves? Alright then.
9:01 Kruk comments on the announcers sweating. Berman calls it a four-shirt broadcast. Ewie.
Not only is the thought of a sweaty Chris Berman changing his lathered up shirt gross, but it also goes directly against Nomar's comment about the players being ready for the event because they were sweating. Newsflash: Arizona is hot in July.
9:03 Berman comments that the last home run by Jose Bautista was only a "two-backer." That's two more. Up to 13 right now. Who's got the under?
Wait, controversy! Reader Saksadelic (?) thinks that should be four "backs," since Berman commented then demonstrated the "backs." Impromptu Twitter poll says two. I agree. It was a delayed comment, followed by a demonstration. Can't give him a four there. Two.
9:05 There's a shot of Kid Rock, who was tapped by Ron Washington to start the All-Star Game. Wait, nope- Jared Weaver. Jared Weaver, folks.
9:06 Shot of Doc and a clean shaven Hamels. Doc has a fancy-looking SLR camera with him. He does, like, real people things.
9:07 Reader Cheesman wants to know what had a better chance of happening: Rollins' breaking the distance record or Weeks winning the derby? Gotta go Weeks. Rollins was given a superball, hollowed out aluminum bat and seven cases of Red Bull, and he still fell a hundred feet short. A quick tear could have propelled Weeks into the arbitrary final.
9:09 We're an hour in and I haven't started drinking yet. I usually start these things off with a beer and blow my proverbial load by hour two. I'm in it for the long haul. For you, the reader.
9:13 Kruk talks about Matt Kemp being distracted last season. Picture explanation:
9:14 Nomar tells us that these guys "aren't great baseball players, they're great athletes." That may be true, Mr. Hamm, but they're great baseball players, as well. I think we're all in agreement on that. In fact, there's a game tomorrow night to showcase their skills.
9:21 Robinson Cano's father is pitching to David Ortiz. New England just imploded.
9:23 Andrew McCutchen is on set talking about his first All-Star appearance. For my money, he's the best player stuck on a bad team in baseball. He can hit, run, and field. That dude will play on a winner someday soon.
Now would be a good time to mention that when typing "Andrew McCutchen" into Google, "Andrew McCutchen Phillies trade" is the second autocomplete result. Hmm.
9:28 And we're taking a lemon sorbet break. Don't judge.
Before I go, I would just like to say that this is awful, awful television. An event that I used to look forward to as a kid, has turned into an annoying sideshow, made worse by the awful three-round system. Drug testing hurts, too.
9:31 Bob Ley is back hyping the women's World Cup match on Wednesday. Soccer!
9:33 Prince Fielder comes out to a round of boos for skipping over Justin Upton. This game must be in Philly or something.
9:34 A child is almost killed by a Fielder pop-up.
9:36 Fielder sends one over the pool, good for four "backs." In a related note, Berman may have broken Twitter at this hour. It's down. Completely useless.
9:37 Nomar marvels at a ball that his the Baseball Tonight set… which is positioned just beyond the left field fence. Puzzling.
9:40 As if this event doesn't drag on long enough, there's now a tie-breaker between Matt Holliday and David Ortiz to determine who goes to the second round. I've participated in fantasy baseball drafts that have had a better pace.
Kruk says "you have to be here to experience this." No, no, we're just fine at home. But who would have thought that throwing seven testosterone-induced mashers and Rickie Weeks into a contest of might would result in competitive spirits?
9:44 Three more "backs." Unofficially, we're at 23. The under is ahead, but Berman has a propensity to up the ante as we progress through the rounds. It's like a guy with tourettes making a public speaking appearance. At some point, the nervous impulses just take over.
9:47 Boom. Told you. A five-backer on Fielder's monster home run. Up to 28. The under folks are sweating.
9:53 Captain America has sponsored the first round recap. Now would be a good time to point out that of the four hitters on the AL, three are from the Dominican Republic. The other one is a Mexican from San Diego. El Capitan Americano does not like, and the people of Arizona are threatening to throw Bautista in jail for his poor first-round showing. Things could get ugly here. Maybe Pedro Gomez shouldn't stand so close to the grandstands. Although, with a name like that, no distance is safe in the People's Republic.
9:59 A six-year-old girl just wiped out trying to catch a big fly from Ortiz. Someone really needs to call child services.
10:02 P.M. and I have no idea when this is going to end. Lanky kid in center just tracked down another fly with the grace of John Mayberry Jr. Sign him up.
10:04 Five backer from Cano "over the G sign, they should call it the Z sign." Nomar Garicappara, ladies and gentlemen.
10:08 Another "two-backer," says Berman. We have a precedent here, even with the demonstration, that only counts for two.
10:10 Five-backer! Well, a four-back with a last second spurt "back." That counts.
10:11 Cano crushes one over the G Series sign, "another Z Series" from the crew. Is this record broken?
Cano finishes the round with 12, a two round total of 20. Ortiz's lineup adjustment may have worked… or backfired, depending on how you look at it. We still have the another round.
Got to give credit to Papa Cano here, he's got good stuff- late-life on his fastball. Of course, he's three pitches in the dirt away from being tied up by Arizona State Troopers. Plus side: That would lock up the Josh Hamilton Heartstrings award- All-Star dad deported after throwing BP to son on grand stage.
10:15 Beer time.
10:18 Sweet Jesus, Santa is sitting by the pool with a harem of bikini-clad coeds. "It's Christmas everyday" – John Kruk
How have we gone two hours and 18 minutes without seeing this shot? Who is producing this shit?
10:22 Do you think ESPN strategically placed Buster Olney on the AL side and Pedro Gomez with the NL so we didn't have to experience a nonstop stream of Gomez interviews another guy with Z-ending last name? Probably.
10:23 Adrian Gonzalez "smacks this one to right, on its way to Yuma," says Berman. It would have be amazing if that ball went 310 feet.
10:25 The American League sluggers have officially abandoned the English language.
10:26 The horror. Men just tackled a lovely Asian woman scrambling for a loose ball just behind the right field fence. Arizona!
[UPDATE: Thanks to Big League Stew, it was later brought to my attention that this happened at some point:]
He was standing on a table and leaning over a railing trying to catch home runs. Have we learned nothing?
10:32 "I'm just here with my homies and we're having a great time." – Matt Kemp. Unrelated to the picture above. I think.
10:34 What is wrong with this picture: There are five men, two in wife beaters, standing knee deep in the hot tub with no sign of the harem. Come on, Santa, work your magic.
10:35 The HR Derby is officially longer than most of the Four Aces' starts (read: not official, but I imagine we're getting close). Still another round to go. Even the Boys and Girls Club kids looks bored.
Get this: Red Sox-Yankees final. The ESPN production truck is performing a circle jerk of epic proportions right now.
10:40 Saddle up. Finals!
10:42 Awesome. Hot tub guy makes incredible diving catch into pool full of bikini babes who immediately secure his beer and comfort him against the side wall. This will be a VHS porno by the week's end: "G Series: Back, Back… and to the Left"
"That was a wet web game." – Chris Berman
10:46 Two backs. 42.
10:48 "I could go for some Pork Rinds right now." – John Kruk
10:52 "Edge of Glory" promo number two. When this song gets redone by a pop-punk group, we're looking at the number one sports anthem of the decade. What Def Leppard did for strip clubs, Lady Gaga has done for montage editors.
10:57 Katy Perry's Firework is being played over the PA system. Jose Cano has no idea what the fuck is going on.
10:59 And we're just now talking about Derek Jeter getting to 3,000 hits. Who had 2:59?
11:00 Two lanky kids almost kill each other in the outfield. It's like Selig's version of dog fighting: Throw a bunch of ball hungry tweens under big league pop flies and watch the aftermath.
11:02 Three more "backs."
11:03 All jokes aside, Cano is hitting bombs. Ties the Derby, hugs his father. Obligatory sip of Gatorade? Check.
"I love you Dad"
11:04 A four-back winner! Cano hugs his Dad. Let's get sentimental!
Final "back" tally: 50. That's probably a good note to end it on. Cliff Lee.