David Ortiz won the Home Run Derby Monday, and in the process, provided a series of natural, genuine moments throughout the event. His exchanges with Hanley Ramirez were as much fun to watch as the 58 bombs the two combined to knock out throughout the contest. During his post-derby interview with Erin Andrews, Ortiz dedicated his victory to the late Jose Lima, providing yet another genuine "Big Papi" moment.
The rest of the night? Decidedly less genuine. The Derby show on ESPN was loaded with "back, back, back" calls by Chris Berman and uninspired interaction between Joe Morgan and Bobby Valentine. Morgan joked at the top of the show that after sitting with a host of former players over the years at the Derby – Mike Piazza and Alex Rodriguez to name a few – Valentine might stick around for a while. If that's the prevailing sentiment from those at ESPN, here's hoping Bobby V gets a managerial gig as soon as possible.
The event, itself, was actually rather exciting, helped in large part by half the field forgetting to bring their bats. Chris Young, Vernon Wells, Nick Swisher and Matt Holliday combined to hit 12 home runs, which was fewer than Corey Hart knocked out in the first round on his own. While those at-bats were dull, at least they were fast.
A definite bright spot of the first round had to come with Ramirez at the plate. The Marlins shortstop knocked out nine dingers in the first round, but his performance was more entertaining to watch, really, because of who sat in on the fun with Berman and the ESPN crew. Will Ferrell, plugging his new movie all over the All-Star festivities, sat at the desk during the eight-minute at-bat as hilarity, and a great deal of awkwardness, ensued. Here's a more easily-digestible five minutes of his time:
If you watched live, you noticed that Berman all but begged Ferrell to dust off the Harry Caray impersonation, presumably just so he could do the it himself (Berman is heard trying Caray's schtick twice during the clip above). It was also rather amazing that on two different occasions, Morgan and Valentine felt compelled to drive the conversation back to Ramirez's home runs, seemingly unable to participate naturally in a conversation with Ferrell who, by all accounts, may be the easiest person in the world to talk with.
â‡¥Berman: How would you have done – I think of you on the news, you know, in the movie (Anchorman) – how would you have done as a sportscaster, Will? What do you think?â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥Morgan then followed his ridiculously awkward comment by finally asking what Ferrell's favorite movie was, adding yet another layer to the awkward comedy interplay between the group. It's almost like Joe Morgan has never actually had a conversation with anyone before, instead he just engages in a series of I-talk-then-wait-until-you-finish-so-I-can-talk-again moments.
â‡¥Ferrell: I would have, you know…I probably would have been drunk on air, a lot, so…â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥
â‡¥Berman: You wouldn't be the first.â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥
â‡¥Ferrell: Okay. I would have done okay, but it is a lot harder than it looks. That's what I know.â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥
â‡¥Morgan: I keep telling people that.â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥
â‡¥Ferrell: You guys make it look easy…â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥
â‡¥Berman: Wanna call a couple? â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥
â‡¥Ferrell: …except for Valentine. He's still hanging in there.â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥
â‡¥Valentine: It's hard for me, man. I'm learning. I'm learning, Will. Every day it's a racket, you know. Every day gets tougher. â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥
â‡¥Berman: Go ahead, you got Hanley Ramirez up here. What do you think Will, is that out of there?â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥
â‡¥Valentine: What a wonderful swing.â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥
â‡¥Morgan: Yes. (answering Berman's question to Ferrell)â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥
â‡¥Ferrell: That's gone. â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥
â‡¥Berman: Wow, that split a rock.â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥
â‡¥Morgan: Will, I've always wanted to ask you –â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥
â‡¥Ferrell: Guess what time it is? Home Run O'Clock.â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥
â‡¥Berman: You're on.â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥
â‡¥Ferrell: Home Run O'Clock.â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥
â‡¥Morgan: Alright, go ahead…â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥â‡¥
Of course, not even Morgan's attempt at dialogue could be anywhere near as awkward as Berman ending the time with Ferrell by making a joke that some players hit the gold balls better because it reminds them of "bling," before following Ferrell's joke that Ramirez was actually 47 years old with a gaffe of his own about trusting some player's birth certificates.
Was Rick Reilly working the Derby again last night? They talked about how hard it is to be sportscasters, but they failed to realize something important. Being funny is even harder.â†µ
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