Vlad Jr. Won The HR Derby

91 home runs on the night.

Jim Rome
July 09, 2019 - 10:42 am
Vlad Jr.

USA Today

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Vlad Jr won the home run derby last night. And what a show it was. 91 home runs on the night, including a 121 second stretch where he had 25 swings and went yard 19 times. The Blue Jays official twitter account condensed all 91 home runs into 60 seconds and it’s mind-blowing:

The sound alone is absurd. That is why you invite the 20-year-old with just eight home runs on the season to the Home Run Derby. Because he can do something like that?

That wasn’t nepotism. He didn’t get that invite because of what his father did, he got it because of what he does – absolutely mash. Like when he broke the record for home runs in the first round with 29. And then broke it again in the second round with 40 in the second round.

And it was electric. What a performance.

And then, wait – actually…, Pete Alonso won the Home Run Derby.

Because in the final round he hit 23 while Vlad Jr hit 22. So I guess Pete Alonso is your 2019 Home Run Derby Champ. Congrats, I guess.

And with respect to Pete, who cares? I mean, I know he does, because he walked away with a trophy and a million bucks, but in 10 years, is anyone going to remember Pete Alonso’s 23 home runs in the final round? Hell no.

If anyone remembers anything, they’ll remember Vlad Jr hitting 91 yesterday. But here is part of the problem with the home run derby – the rules seem to change every year.

Vlad Jr broke Josh Hamilton’s home run derby record in the first round, but Hamilton did it in a completely different system.

And nobody is going to get all fired up about that or turn into “Get off my lawn guy” about the home run derby rules, but it is kind of weird that it seems to be a completely different format every time.

There were innings. There were outs. Then it was about time. There were tiebreakers. You name, it they’ve tried it. Overtimes. Gold balls. Timeouts.

Speaking of timeouts, let me take one here to say that Jaxon Hayes dunking in a Summer League game was nearly more exciting than most of the home run derby.

That was filthy. Cruel and unusual punishment to the poor Chicago Bulls summer league player who rotated over to defend, errr, ah, become a traffic cone in the Jaxson Hayes Dunk Contest.  That was felonious. 

But the fact that Hayes dunking in summer league was getting run last night is kind of a problem for baseball. Last night and tonight are supposed to belong to baseball.

And last night did belong to Vlad Jr, except for when it didn’t. 

Remember when Big Mac won the Home Run Derby smoking one off the light tower above the Green Monster in Fenway? Actually, he didn’t win. He didn’t make it past the second round, when he ran into Jeromy Burnitz.

Remember when Josh Hamilton won the Home Run Derby in Yankee Stadium by crushing one home run after another? Surprise, he didn’t win it either. Justin Morneau did.

All due respect to Justin, really good guy, really good player, but nobody remembers that he won a home run derby. Because he didn’t. He got the trophy, but he didn’t win the derby.

That’s kind of the thing. It’s really weird to get worked up about the Home Run Derby every year, since every year, it’s kind of weird and kind of un-exciting.

And then when it is exciting, when there are incredible moments, it’s never the winner who has them. And they’re always moments that come from early in the competition. Because by the end, guys gas out.

I get it. It’s tiring. And that’s kind of a thing. And kind of an issue for the event, because you’re not saving the best for last. The best goes first and then it becomes battle to survive.

It would be like if everyone went with their biggest dunks in the first round of the slam dunk contest and the final round was just two guys doing layups. It would be MJ taking off from the foul line in the first round and then going with a finger roll in the final.

Again, I’m sure Pete Alonso is seriously fired up about what happened last night. And he should be. The check that he earned is nearly double his salary for the year. And he got a pretty sick trophy to boot.

But it’s kind of weird when at the end of the night, nobody is talking about the winner and everyone is talking about the guy who was the runner up.

The runner up who hit 34 more home runs than the actual champion. The runner-up who hit nearly 40,000 feet of home runs last night. And lost to a guy who hit a lot less than that.

In a few years, the only thing people will remember, if they remember anything about this Home Run Derby is Vlad Jr doing what he did and not Pete Alonso doing what he did. And that’s kind of a problem.  Because you have the alleged best derby ever, and the best performer on the night didn’t even win it.