MLB’s single-elimination bracket format has revitalized the Home Run Derby—last night ruled—but can we do even better? As with game shows, the Japanese remain light years ahead of us in Home Run Derby technology.
Reading a Sam Miller ESPN column yesterday, I stumbled across something I had regrettably never seen before: A 2002 Japanese television show featuring Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, and Bernie Williams facing off in a home run–hitting contest with some unusual twists. I’m glad I finally saw it, and I want you to see it too. It’s fun enough as a time capsule—check those baggy jeans on Bonds—but it’s devilishly creative.
First, the hitters face off against a pitcher throwing BP through a literal smokescreen:
Williams actually homers, and Bonds hits a comebacker that knocks over the fake grass and sends the pitcher ducking for cover, but Giambi is totally stymied:
Next the boys face off against two pitchers, a righty and a lefty standing back-to-back and delivering simultaneously, though only one of them actually has a ball. Williams makes the best contact of anyone, doubling to the wall:
Then we get to the most bizarre pitch of the competiton: a pitcher delivering the ball from the zenith of a trampoline bounce. Bonds homers!
Bonds is pleased. I don’t think he would have let them stop filming until he hit one out.
The whole thing’s on Youtube and worth at least skipping around in. And nice job by the uploader on picking the single best possible thumbnail: