As it turns out, Chris Berman might be the only person pitched at the right frequency for the Home Run Derby. After three hours of that — three hours! — I was almost afraid I didn't like baseball anymore.
The joke about Berman's histrionics at the Home Run Derby has always been based in a fundamental truth: The guy didn't show much interest in baseball the rest of the season — as anyone who has heard him try to "call" a playoff game can tell you — and seemed to be popping in as a manifestation of its most cretinous form, bombast with all complication excised. Chris Berman isn't a baseball fan: He just likes things that go boom.
The mistake, having now sat through that for a whole evening, was blaming Berman for this. Chris Berman is the only person on earth who could broadcast the Home Run Derby. Screaming like a mad man, like a child who has just discovered that pushing air here through that makes noise, might be Berman's tranquil state, but it's the literal opposite of what any rational human would want to do during the Home Run Derby. That he's able to keep that up for so long, at that level of enthusiasm for an event that stuffs enthusiasm in a laundry sack and bashes it against the cement for three hours, is the mark of the truly mad. It's also kind of heroic. I cannot fathom how anyone could put themselves through that and muster up enough energy to stay upright, let alone sound like This Is The Most Amazing Thing You Have Ever Seen. It would be easier to vigorously broadcast the contents of one's refrigerator. Berman must sleep for two months afterward.
The Leitches and I, way up in Section 545, kept our dander up for the first hour. Mistakenly thinking this was a sustainable event, I even tried live-Tweeting the events from the stands. (Note: I believe "live-Tweeting" is merely known as "Tweeting.") Albert Pujols' inclusion kept alive the illusion that this was an actual sporting event, for a little while. After all, we were at a baseball stadium! In seats! With tickets! Drinking beer! Baseball!
But that cannot last, and eventually the brain finally catches on and reminds you that you're watching batting practice. And you've been watching batting practice for three hours. It is baseball reduced to its most base instinct. It is explosion without context. It is whippets, temporary sensation caused by the rapid destruction of millions of irreplaceable brain cells, ultimately leading to subdural haematoma. By the end, we weren't at a baseball game; we were watching the beginning of Irreversible. We were staring blankly into the void.
So we left. We stayed until the end, because you're at a baseball stadium and that's what you're supposed to do even if you're not watching baseball, but we checked out long before, letting our souls escape to a happy place, where we thought about chores needing to be done at home, assignments needing finished, toenails needing clipped. It's just too much. I guess I never realized. I guess I never understood. It hurts your heart. It really does.
And yes: I have newfound respect for Berman. He sits through that every year, and screams and yells and Promotes The Brand. The intestinal fortitude it must require to do that is staggering. He might not be human. You almost admire him for it.
By the way, because no one ever makes it to the end of the Ten Humans part of the column, we're making a little switch. Rather than doing the Ten Humans every Tuesday, we're going to do little posts like this one twice a week. It'll usually be Tuesday and Thursday, though you'll probably get another report from the All-Star Game tomorrow. I apologize in advance for the slight uptick in Deadspin presence.
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