Eight guys with bats. One Berman. And Three Doors Down, for some reason. It's a Home Run Derby live blog, Charlie Brown. Please adorn your Chan Ho Park faces (for safety reasons) before entering the dinger zone after the Gordon Jump.
10:50 — The reality that Josh Hamilton might not win this Derby is hard to take, especially since the fans and media are going cold turkey. THAT'S RIGHT, PLAY THE ROCKY THEME SONG.
10:48 — Unsure if Hamilton had any strength left, he dings the center field black area again. He's up to three.
10:47 — Berman goes with a "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' " lyric drop. Damn. The Eagles never covered that song, so we missed with the '60s allusion.
10:45 — John Kruk: Yankees fans should cheer for him because "He could be a Yankee in three years." Thanks for ruining tonight and Christmas in the same breath.
10:40 — Morneau finishes with five in the final round. Nicestory is up next.
10:38 — I think they significantly cut the volume on Reilly's microphone. No kidding. I couldn't hear anything he said, Ravech didn't even acknowledge his words and moved on.
10:35 — Joe Morgan asks Berman if he gets to re-predict the Derby winner. "I don't think anything's a shoe-in." Good old Joe anything-can-happen I'll-have-to-see-him-swing-more Morgan.
10:33 — That was nice of the shot-calling fan participant to ask Morneau what shot he wanted him to call. Was the guy born in Minnesota? Because that's a textbook St. Paul Called Shot. Is too. Check Urban Dictionary. But .. um, wait until at least 15 minutes after I'm done live blogging.
10:32 — Our insider tells us that Section 39 is directing a cheer toward press row. The cheer? "JOE MORGAN SUCKS."
10:25 — Hamilton nice-storily stops at 32, saving his auxiliary Redempt-O-Matic XL3000 energy for the finals. The Redempt-O-Matic XL3000! It's where Josh Hamilton gets his power. Now available at Costco.
10:22 — As a formality, Hamilton steps in and adds to his 28. Know what would top his first round? If he hits a straight-up pop fly, resets under it, and hits it again.
10:20 — Braun's ball lands harmlessly in short right field. He and Berkman end with 14. It's an All-Gentile finals!
10:19 — I think they should ask Reggie Jackson where they think Ryan Braun's power comes from. Manna?
10:17 — And a nation falls in love with an old man. Clay Counsil (Hamilton's BP pitcher) was last at Yankee Stadium when Don Larsen pitched his perfect game, if we believe the urban legend just uttered by ESPN. MLB.com also says this.
10:16 — (By the way, Lance Berkman is eliminated.)
10:14 — Rick Reilly's the only one who seems brazen enough to actually refer to heroin and cocaine in reference to Josh Hamilton. "It's a lousy night to be an atheist." Youch. I don't think the Disney overlords are going to be too pleased with much of this.
10:11 — It was probably poorly planned on ESPN's part to put the Home Run Derby in their official TV listings as 8-10 p.m., given that we're halfway through the semis. Or maybe it really is over, and Ryan Braun really is swinging for the fences in the Legends & Celebrities All-Star Game.
10:07 — [trying to force interest back into the actual contest] Wow! Justin Morneau had 9 in that round! That's a lot of home runs! Cheers to Canada! Invest in the loonie! (How's that?)
10:05 — A bunch of guys with laptops and other pricey technical equipment are situated in a section the second tier of the right field seats. Are we sure that was the best place for them to sit at a HOME RUN DERBY? Morneau laced one in the front row of that section.
10:04 — Is Justin Morneau gonna have to start freebasin' in the batters box to get ESPN's attention?
10:03 — Fedora slant to Ryan for footage of the Reilly/Sizemore/steroids remark.
10:00 — I think somebody slightly noticed that Lance Berkman's second round finished with 14 total.
9:59 — Reggie Jackson was afraid the Home Run Derby might have wrecked his swing. Mark it.
9:57 — All right, second round time. Berkman plays catch-up, slightly.
9:51 — Let this be a lesson to you, kids. Ignore the old maxim of "Don't do drugs." Instead, follow the wisdom of "Do drugs, then stop doing drugs." Note: It's OK if you can't stop doing drugs. There's always VH1 reality TV shows.
9:48 — He finishes abruptly with 28. Jesus. The line for the bathrooms must rival Cedar Point.
9:47 — You know what, I half forgot for a minute that this was a competition. I thought it was just an exhibition of Josh Hamilton hitting home runs. And hey, if they just ended the competition right now, I don't think anybody would mind.
9:46 — The old pitcher guy is in a conundrum. Andy Griffith comes on at 10.
9:45:41 — Staten Island, you say? Mark it on the bingo card.
9:45 — And Hamilton has the first round Derby record broken, an illustrious record that's held for well over a couple years.
9:43 — Every ball to center field elicits more people to get their ass beaten down by security dudes. I wholeheartedly encourage this. Keep hitting to center.
9:40 — Get out your Pointer Sisters lyrics ... one two three four five, six seven eight nine ten, eleven twelve ... "Twenty!"
9:38 — The best home run of the night. It hit the black stuff in center field, it caused kids to collide with each other, and it caused the security guards to tackle them to the ground. All in all, a perfect swing. (And just think three years ago, that might've been Hamilton being detained by the officers. AM I RIGHT, ESPN!?!)
9:35 — A guy in press row e-mailed me to say that all the curmudgeony reporter guys who root for nobody ... they were in awe of Hamilton's second homer. C'mon, dudes. You know you want to pump your fist.
9:34 — Berman begins his geography lesson, but he's not being nearly as hyperbolic as he needs to be for this bingo game to work.
9:33 — Home runs can be called back?
9:32 — Edinson Volquez leaves a briefcase on home plate after Hamilton's seventh. It contains the crop reports for next year's orange harvest.
9:31 — I don't think we've mentioned the guy throwing to Hamilton yet, but, damn. Jamie Moyer looks good for his age.
9:30 — Hamilton nice storied that one even farther. 504.
9:28 — Waitaminnit ... 502 feet?
9:27 — I didn't count a single Bermanified contestant. Mike Gallego's scar was clawed at a little, but otherwise the damage is certainly minimal.
9:26 — And last, but certainly nice story:
Name/Position/Team: Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas Rangers
Fun Fallible Fact: Hamilton's remarkable comeback was actually jolted in 2005 when he won the rehab clinic's Magic: The Gathering tournament. He won by default, since he was the only one not to use the Shivan Dragon to cut lines of cocaine.
9:25 — What if, like his other dream, Josh Hamilton is dreaming that he's in the HR Derby right now? And we're all part of it? What if, when Josh Hamilton wakes up in 30 minutes ... we all disappear? Well, if it did, it might go a little something like this.
9:21 — And of course, Ryan Braun finishes with 7, safely moving him to the semis. Chase the Utley is knocked out. Uggla/Sizemore are, to Lunardify the situation, on the bubble with six each. And now for "Nice Story" Hamilton.
9:20 — M'kay, Braun's on some sort of streak of success unseen in Jewish history since the raid of Torquemada's tomb.
9:18 — And there's four. He won't be dead last. I feel remotely bad for what I just said.
9:17:10 — OK, I'll shut up.
9:17 — Ryan Braun might not have been a good choice for this. The underprivileged kid with a Brewers jersey will now turn back to a life of crime.
9:14 — The seventh swinger, step right up:
Name/Position/Team: Ryan Braun, LF, Milwaukee Brewers
Fun Fallible Fact: Growing up, Braun once hit a home run out of his backyard and through the window his Muslim neighbor's house. Fortunately, the neighbor had a good humor about it, and Braun's parents paid for a new window. The following year, the two families co-hosted a barbecue.
9:12 — While Erin Andrews delved into Josh Hamiton's "I had a crack dream" speech, Morneau kept rising up the standings. Right now Morneau knocks out Longoria by posting an 8. Berkman looks safe too.
9:11 — Hey look, Rudy Giuliani.
9:10 — Morneau's third homer landed probably 8 rows short of from some million dollar sign. And that's as close as we get to that banner.
9:08 — Rick Reilly notes that all eight players are white men. Wait ... Rick Reilly played the race card? At least he didn't say that the entrance in right field is a "black hole for homers."
Now for Man No. 6:
Name/Position/Team: Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota Twins
Fun Fallible Fact: During his 16-game hit streak in 2006, Morneau kept a cube of deep fried cheddar cheese in his underpants. Although it was probably a coincidence, the streak ended soon after the cube was accidentally eaten by Terry Tiffee.
9:04 — I've been thinking ... should the "Derek Jeter mention" bingo space count, given that he was the catcher for the first pitch? I'm torn between "no, it was topical" and "not only yes, but every square around it should be marked down."
9:02 — His eighth one went to straightaway center. That was perhaps the loudest, most baritoned "WOW!" I've heard out of Berman since Orson Welles discovered BLTs.
9:00 — Berkman keeps hitting it farther and farther back into that right field upper deck. Clearly this trend will not stop.
8:57 — Batting fifth:
Name/Position/Team: Lance Berkman, 1B, Houston Astros
Bats: However He Damn Well Wants
Fun Fallible Fact: The Astros slugger who spent the last nine seasons hitting baseballs retired in the offseason to open up a bait and tackle shop in Saskatchewan. The current "Lance Berkman" you see before you today is actually NASCAR driver Tony Stewart sitting on the shoulders of Jeff Bagwell. This was also the reason for "Berkman"'s trip to the 15-day disabled list for what doctors called "sneezing out of his groin."
8:54 — Yeah. Like I'm going to dig anything up. The Sports Hernia wins the gold star for this:
8:51 — The important thing is, Utley wasn't shown up by no punk-nosed rookie. Five. Five is the total.
8:49 — That's a kid with a pretty slick half-diving catch. I remember in third grade Little League when all I did was try and make diving stops. I tried well. Most of those balls ended up as triples, however.
8:48 — Another powerful one, smashing the upper deck "wall." Railing? What the heck do you call that? I'm no architect.
8:47 — Utley's finally nonzeroed in his homering ways.
8:46 — Here comes the Anti-Boo Radley of the Derby:
Name/Position/Team: Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies
Fun Fallible Fact: Coming up through Philadelphia's farm system, Utley spent the baseball winters teaching schoolkids the ancient martial art of chaseutsu, where one strikes down their victim down in such a way that after the fight, the defeated subject actually likes his opponent better than before.
8:44 — Longoria smashes a couple around the left field foul pole, but ends with just
four or three.
8:42 — Ravech, Kruk, and Reilly are pretty sure Longoria is rattled by the aura of Yankee Stadium, which is pushing the rookie on his backside at the force of 43 Newtons/second, given that he has only 1 home run through 7 outs.
8:39 — Now for our third contestant:
Name/Position/Team: Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays
Fun Fallible Fact: He's only the sixth rookie to swing away in the Home Run Derby. Most people know this. But few people know that the Rays cornerstone has a birthmark on his left thigh in the shape of a Todd Hollandsworth.
8:35 — And Grady S. ends with six, just like the Uggla guy.
8:34 — Sizemore's sixth almost went out of the park. Almost. And there I thought we had a Berman geography lesson.
8:32 — Sizemore's up to four with six outs. Maybe it was a bit premature to cut Joe Borowski last month ... they could use him to close this thing out.
8:31 — I think that was Richard Q. Reilly with the "who needs steroids?" remark after a Sizemore upper deck blast. Edgy for mainstream!
8:30 — I love the "where are the hitters getting their power" discussions. Hydroelectric dams?
8:29 — The leadoff guy is batting second, probably because Eric Wedge will never drop him down in the lineup:
Name/Position/Team: Grady Sizemore, OF, Cleveland Indians
Bats: ...I'm sorry, what? I was captivated by his eyes.
Fun Fallible Fact: The Indians implemented Sizemore's innovative "lineup buddy system," wherein if one player goes in a slump, so will the other. That way nobody would feel left out. Unfortunately, Travis Hafner picked Victor Martinez, Ryan Garko chose Kelly Shoppach, and Asdrubal Cabrera chose Cameron Billings, a 7-year-old T-baller from Parma.
8:27 — And as a bigger, more popular kid actually makes a catch in left, Uggla sets the bar at 6.
8:26 — I know I shouldn't laugh at that kid who fell trying to catch that fly to short left. Still, though. C'mon. It's right there.
8:23 — Rock the left field bleachers. Uggla's up to four.
8:21:30 — And another. That one's to center field. Joe Morgan's convinced, after two swings, that he should probably change his pick. This is legal in the HR Derby.
8:21 — El DINGDONGDORIO!!!!! Our first one of the night.
8:20 — And here comes our first contestant:
Name/Position/Team: Dan Uggla, 2B, Florida Marlins
Bats: In the Marlins' stadium, so nobody quite knows
Fun Fallible Fact: Uggla paid Baseball-Reference.com's Sean Forman $20 to knock Junior Spivey to remove Chuck Knoblauch from Uggla's Similar Batters index. Forman added a component involving incidental violence toward cable talk show host's families.
8:16 — Hi, Erin Andrews, I'll have two boxes of the Thin Mints and one of the Samoas.
8:14 — They have first pitches in HR Derbies? Reggie Jackson threw it out. I think I heard Billy Martin booing. Derek Jeter caught it. Good thing Reggie didn't throw it to his left.
8:12 — That's why you guys are there commenting. When Chase Utley was introduced, apparently he responded to the boos with "Boo? Fuck you!" Pedro Cerrano will tell him later how to correctly pronounce it. (I'll try to dig up audiographical evidence of this.)
8:09 — And now, the HR Derby rules. I can't believe I didn't go over these in the pre-game, but here they are: It's just like a wet t-shirt contest. The winner will be determined by the loudest cheer from the stands. Josh Hamilton already won, actually. But they sold the advertising space, so they're gonna still go through with it.
8:08 — It's amazing Berman was able to go through the announcement of the participants without breaking out any nicknames. Or ... gasp ... maybe he doesn't have any.
8:05 — "LAAADDIIIEEEESSS ANNND GENTLEMENNNNNNN." The sound you heard was a collective nation cringing. That hasn't happened since when Chandler and Monica were caught having sex.
8:04 — The mystery song concludes. And now the batters will square up to try and hit Three Doors Down frontman Brad Arnold. It's a new rule. Connecting with his forehead will grant the contestant three free outs.
8:00 — That sounds like Three Doors Down, but those words don't match the ones in "Kryptonite." HOLD ON A SEC. They have other songs? Why didn't they tell anyone?
In this particular Derby, the left-handed batters have a distinct advantage. But it's at Yankee Stadium, so only True Yankees have a chance at this one. So if I'm picking a winner, I'm taking Jim Leyritz and the points. Wait ... these home runs don't count for anything? Then I'm changing my answer to Kevin Maas.
Also, we're all going to play a game within a game tonight. Adapted from an idea in one of my favorite Deadspin threads, "Sportscaster Thought Bingo" was the attempt to pre-emptively delve into an announcer's psyche, thereby turning a possible migraine into fun for the whole family. Tonight's game card, since it revolves around Chris Berman, should be a rather easy win.