The Home Run Derby should be played at the South Pole every year, because clearly it’s the natural habitat of the Polar Bear, Pete Alonso. After a year without the derby (thanks COVID), Alonso was back to defend his 2019 crown, and boy did he.
The guy is built for this event. He brings incredible energy with him to the plate, dancing and bobbing his head to whatever song the in-house DJ is playing, and then steps to the plate and obliterates baseballs into orbit. Being hosted at Coors Field in Denver was a gift to baseball fans, as nine of the 10 longest home runs since StatCast began tracking distances in 2016 took place last night. Four of the nine were compliments of Alonso, all with distances measured at over 500 feet.
Not only is he great at hitting moon shots, but he’s all New York, all the time.
“All my music that was playing tonight was New York guys. Nas, Mobb Deep, and The Notorious B.I.G. I wanted to set the vibe and just represent for New York,” Alonso said.
After setting the record for the most home runs in a single round of the event with 35 in his first round, he defeated Trey Mancini in the final round to defend his title. It was an epic display. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give the biggest tip of the cap ever to Mancini, who was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer in March of 2020, completed his chemotherapy in October, returned to the Orioles this spring, and has 16 home runs with 55 RBI though the first half of the season. What a remarkable comeback.
Alonso apparently didn’t care about the feel-good story, and just wanted to win anyways.
Winning multiple Home Run Derbys has only been done by three other players — Ken Griffey Jr. (3), Prince Fielder (2), and Yoenis Céspedes (2). The fun-loving polar bear should make an appearance in the event every year, and his dead-pull power hitting style and ability to make a baseball go really really far gives him a good foundation to compete in the event yearly.
Pete Alonso and his two Home Run Derby wins has netted him more money than his rookie salary so far in his playing career.
Last night was an exciting spectacle. It was competitive, it was lively, there were monstrous home runs, Alonso danced his way to a Home Run Derby championship, and major league baseball players actually looked like they were having fun. The game has to find a way to allow this kind of personality to show when the games matter, not just when hitters are blasting batting practice pitches into orbit.