CINCINNATI -- Cue the monotonous announcement of yet another drawn out batting practice environment to determine the Home Run Derby winner. You know the one, the Dinger Derby that takes far too long, makes you switch between Call of Duty and probing a bee hive in hopes of producing something more exciting.
Yeah, not so much this time around. This time it was electric. And after it came down to Joc Pederson and the hometown favorite Todd Frazier, Frazier won it 15-14 to claim the 2015 Home Run Derby championship.
Sure, it took some adjusting to. The new rules of four minutes on the clock with only one 45 second break allowed made it seem like a forced event that was moving too quickly. Geez, you can't make anyone happy around here. Anthony Rizzo and his batting practice pitcher seemed out of sync, rushed and unable to find a rhythm. He had eight. Josh Donaldson stepped to the plate and had nine to advance to Round 2.
Okay, it's alright, but I'm not thrilled.
Enter Prince Fielder. Eight of his 13 home runs were over 425 feet. Somewhere some baseballs are huddled in a corner, crying in fear for their fellow baseball lives. But that was nothing compared to Todd Frazier. Home field advantage or no, Frazier made Donkey Kong look like a kitten by the way he sent the ball flying out of the park.
And yes, that nearly happened. Stupid sign. Frazier destroyed a baseball that literally bounced off the Great American Insurance Group giant scoreboard, and would have left the ballpark had it not been in the way. Frazier had 13 by the end of his four allotted minutes of time. He needed just one more to advance. Really, I feel bad for those baseballs (not really).
Manny Machado, for all his 12 home runs he hit, couldn't outdo Joc Pederson, who destroyed some baseballs. One that was hit so hard it went 487(!) feet. Rather than explain that, I'll just drop this right here:
Kris Bryant. Oh, the poor, young dude. So much potential for dingers, but his father offered no help. Better luck next time, twiglet. The veteran dropped the mic on Bryant. Albert Pujols homered 10 times, coming within the last second of the timer to take the first round. Popcorn, anyone? I mean, if this is how the Dinger Derby is going to be from now on, we should at least have popcorn. Or caramel corn. On second thought, let's go with that.
Anyway, back toin Round 2. Let's just say it went a little something like this for Frazier:
That sound you hear when the ocean ebbs in and out of the seashore, crashing against the rocks? That's the ballpark right now, for Frazier.— Catherine Slonksnis (@CSlonksnis) July 14, 2015
Poor Josh Donaldson. He never had a chance. Todd Frazier is a beast.— Catherine Slonksnis (@CSlonksnis) July 14, 2015
Frazier advanced to the final found and all there was left to do was see if it would be against Pujols or Pederson. The old man couldn't do it. Pederson had knocked 12 dingers after getting off to a slow start. If he hadn't made an adjustment, Pujols would have won. But Pujols couldn't get the job done. Trailing by three to win it after regulation and 30 bonus seconds to go, Pujols got just one more home run.
Things did not get off to a good start for Pederson, who hit seven balls that failed to go out of the ballpark. It was like watching your dog when he keeps trying to drag his favorite stick between the doorway and can't figure it out. It's frustrating. Saddening, even. Then he blasted six in a row. Then he struggled. Then he was on fire again and finished with 14.
But it wasn't enough. Frazier, who struggled through the first half of the four minutes, lit up like a Christmas tree with less than two minutes. He tied Pederson with less than 20 seconds to go. He needed just one more pitch in the 30 seconds of bonus time to take the championship, the Great American Ballpark absolutely roaring with excitement. Heck, let's just call it a postseason atmosphere. And Major League Baseball gave us the best Home Run Derby in the history of EVER. Thank you.
SB Nation presents: The home run derby with a twist