As usual, the Home Run Derby gave us all a sight to behold. From Jose Bautista’s 10 first round homers to Giancarlo Stanton's orbit shots to the upper deck to Yoenis Cespedes carrying the show all the way to the second consecutive championship – first since Ken Griffey, Jr. in the early 1990’s to accomplish such a feat.
To spice things up this year, Monday’s derby featured bracket style head-to-head competition in order to reach the finals. If you go off Bautista’s 10 first round bombs (the most in a single round during the derby) and Stanton’s six long shots including one that went over 500 feet, those two should undoubtedly meet in the final round thanks to a second round bye.
The only problem though, was getting sabotaged by their own rewards.“
The change in the format definitely affected some players,” Cespedes said. “And I think it was difficult for people like Bautista and Stanton because they did have to wait so long between. And it's not so much that they were affected on the field, but they also had to wait and they didn't have the cage as much.”
“It made a bigger difference than I thought it would,” Stanton said of the layoff. “I kind of have to find something to do in that time, stay warm. It's definitely a speed bump I couldn't get over in this one. But it was still fun.
“I can't believe I goose-egged the second round.”
This debacle came about because each league had five sluggers and the top three from the first round advanced to the bracket stage. From the remainder of the first round to both second rounds, Stanton had to wait about an hour and 20 minutes between swings.
Not even Marlins manager and batting practice spicy meatball server Mike Redmond could work his magic in the semi-final round.
This isn’t the first time a derby contestant has won the crowd but not the Home Run Derby. Josh Hamilton hit a record 28 home runs in the first round of the 2008 HR Derby in the old Yankee Stadium. However he ran out of gas and ultimately lost to Justin Morneau.
Even though it took only six home runs for Stanton, he made them all count. And like the Terminator, he’ll be back.
"That's what you've got to do," he said, vowing this was not his final Home Run Derby. "That's what the people are here for. I’ve got to bring it back to the NL.”
Hopefully next time, MLB will wise up, ditch the bye and make it a four-hitter-per-league bracket battle.