Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Going the Distance

Well, I made it home safe and sound from the Jersey shore on Monday evening. Despite three days filled with "GTL" references and multiple exclamations of "tee shirt timmmeeee", my pre-birthday extravaganza in Atlantic City hardly resembled the raucous show on MTV. But it was still glorious. And I rued returning to reality.

However, the vacation's end was made a little more bearable with the Home Run Derby. Now, I'm not a huge fan of all-star games in professional sports. With the exception of Major League Baseball, the exhibition games tend to be meaningless and, dare I say, a little boring.  And let's be one wants to see NFL players just hanging out in Hawaii. It's just rude.

But I do tend to love me some skills competitions. Despite my animosity toward the league, I'll occasionally catch a NBA Slam Dunk contest. Seriously...Dwight Howard with the sticker dunk? Still a fan. And love it or hate it, Blake Griffin's dunk over a car this year isn't something you see everyday.

When it comes down to it, though, nothing beats the Home Run Derby contest. The power hitting, the adorable children, the babbling of players in languages I don't's like a smorgasbord of baseball goodness wrapped in a Disney blanket. And Monday night's event was in a class of its own.

The Derby this year differed from the normal format. Captains David Ortiz and Prince Fielder, were allowed to select the three other players to compete with them in a battle of the AL vs. NL. Prince Fielder managed to piss off the home Arizona crowd by choosing fellow Milwaukee Brewer Rickie Weeks over Diamondbacks hero Justin Upton, causing many faceless league execs to rejoice over not having to bear the brunt of fan ill will.

Though Weeks didn't help his cause by posting a lowly 3 HRs in the first round, Fielder won back the crowd's favor during the first ever 3 man bat off. The Prince slammed five HRs on five pitches, showing up his fellow captain Big Papi, who managed 4 HRs on 5 pitches after requesting a music change.

Side much do I love Big Papi? A whole lot, if judging by my notes on the Derby. My notebook is reading like a middle school doodle on a Lisa Frank folder.  

But the true show belonged to finalists Adrian Gonzalez and Robinson Cano. Like something out of a sports movie, the title battle came down to Red Soxer Gonzo and Yankee Cano. The two, who led the contest from the get-go, posted ridiculous numbers each round. After Gonzo tied the HR Derby record for most bombs in the final round with 11, the mountain seemed pretty steep for Robbie Cano.

Of course, when your dad is your pitcher, it helps a little.

Cano only needed 6 outs to bust open the record and win the 2011 Derby title. None was more excited than Jose Cano, who came off the mound to grab his son in a bear hug. The cheers from fellow Yankees teammates were impressive. There was confetti and crying, and I'm pretty sure I saw an angel in the outfield. This was serious stuff. The stuff Home Run Derby dreams are made of.

Hey dad, look! I hit the ball out!

Cano helped postpone my trip back to the real world just a little bit longer. He went the distance, and I went with him.

Images provided by (top to bottom) sports.popcrunch, static.colourlovers, and sbnation.


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