I'll admit- I expected more from an All Star event like this. Come on, people. While there were some huge at-bats and some slugging on display, the pitching? Absolutely subpar. The fielding? They looked like kids out there, totally lost! All in all, disappointing, save for the hitting, so maybe that's what we should focus on here....
With only 4 players on each side, I was somehow surprised that Chris Berman still took over ten minutes to introduce the teams. The fans really started to get into it about the time Prince Fielder was introduced- apparently everyone who was hoping for Justin Upton to make an appearance in the derby decided to let the NL team captain know he should have done a better job. We weren't held DBacks-less, though- Cal Ripken Jr. threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Miguel Montero.
The AL trotted out Adrian Gonzalez to start the derby. As a former Padre, he's familiar with the dimensions of Chase Field, and he took advantage of that early on, dropping a pitch early on into the pool in right field. He was hammering pitches deep to the right side, and ended with 9 home runs on his first round. Matt Holliday came up for the NL, and struggled a little early on, hitting only three through his first nine outs, but two home runs with the gold ball put him at 5 through the first round.
Robinson Cano was the next batter up for the American League, with his dad pitching, and he put on a display. 8 home runs, average length of 449 feet, according to ESPN. Gonzalez may have hit more home runs, but Cano hit more impressive, towering shots.
The National League's next contestant was Rickie Weeks. With the crowd starting chants for Justin Upton, Weeks took a mighty first swing and... Whiffed. He didn't get a whole lot of work done on his time at the plate, only managing to knock out three home runs- not a lot of vindication for Prince Fielder.
Jose Bautista was the American League's next contestant, and I was suddenly left thinking that the AL had a much stronger team for the derby today. Bautista looked like he was about to vindicate me in that belief, crushing pitches deep on his first two swings, but his next nine were less impressive. He ended the round with 4 home runs, but you'd expect a better performance from a guy leading the league in home runs.
And then Matt Kemp came up. And failed to get a home run on his first nine swings. He managed two home runs with his back against the wall, but that wasn't enough to keep him in contention for the second round. After Kemp, we were down to the captains of each team. David Ortiz came up and managed five in his at-bats. Prince Fielder came up to more boos from the fan base, and managed to put up five as well, including an opposite field shot.
With the first round finished, Jose Bautista, Matt Kemp, and Rickie Weeks were automatically eliminated, with Fielder, Ortiz, and Holliday in a "swing-off" to advance in two spots. Each batter got five swings. Holliday, having sat the longest, managed to put two over the fence, but he was quickly shown up by the team captains. David Ortiz went long with his last four swings, and Fielder one-upped him by hitting home runs on all five swings.
So, we entered the second round, with Cano, Gonzalez, and Ortiz from the American League, and only Prince Fielder from the National League. Kemp and Weeks would have had to combine their totals just to make the swing-off round- great picks, Prince.
The second round started with Ortiz at the plate first. A few good swings brought him up to nine home runs for the first two round, but any hopes he had of the second round were swiftly crushed. Robinson Cano came to the plate next and put on a clinic. Ten outs later, Cano had crushed twelve pitches past the outfield wall, sitting at twenty home runs after the first two rounds. Adrian Gonzalez came up next, having been sitting more than two hours, but that break just seemed to have left him rested. He launched eleven deep to sit at twenty for the first two rounds, eliminating Ortiz and meaning Fielder would need fifteen home runs to trigger a tie breaker. He fell far short of that target, only managing four.
Adrian Gonzalez lead off the last round, and started giving out souvineirs. With one out, he hit five straight home runs, with one of them being caught by a guy jumping into the pool. He put on a pretty good show for the last round, finishing it off with eleven home runs, Robinson Cano needing to knock an even dozen homers off his dad's pitching to win the derby.
Cano started off with his first swing, parking it over right field fence, as Chris Berman declared "Game on!" With the next pitch, Cano hit a towering shot to center field, but it was a bit short, as Berman declared "Game... high?" But Cano continued to hamnmer pitches deep- I don't have any numbers in front of me, but I'd guess he had the longest average home run on the day. With five outs, Cano had parked eight home runs, and was well on his way to wining the derby. After just one more out, Cano slammed the next four swings deep to right field, winning the 2011 Home Run Derby, and finally pulling a smile from his dad.
A pretty nice thread, a little over 500 comments, and Bryan J. Boltik led all commenters, with Clefo and snakecharmer in second and third. Zavada's Moustache, xmet, NASCARbernet, kishi, diamondfacts, Hvegasooner, txzona, BattleMoses, BulldogsNotZags, piratedan7, Husk, Jdub220, , porty99, TylerO, and 4 Corners Fan also stopped by to talk.
I'll give Clefo CotD for his note about Fielder getting crushed by the fans when he came to the plate
So, not the most eventful of derbies at the start. Any one doubting Prince Fielder's choices for the National League team have to feel somewhat vindicated, as all his picks were eliminated in the first round. Our last two champions, Fielder and Ortiz, limped into the second round on the swing-off and really didn't offer much of an inspiring performance on the night. But while the early rounds may have been lacking, Cano and Gonzalez did their part to smack some dingers and entertain the Chase Field crowd.