It's time for the second annual live logging of the Home Run Derby.
Let's be honest -- this event is better than the actual All-Star Game. Why? Because everyone can relate. Raise your hand if you never played Home Run Derby as a kid. That's what I thought. For me in the Philadelphia suburbs, a home run was initially a ball that landed in the street. As we grew older, the ball had to land across the street and into the McLaughlins yard.
That's enough about my childhood though. Here's the deal. I'll be updating the action live as it happens. All you have to do is refresh your page for updates. Enjoy!
8:00 - The Counting Crows open the event by performing "Accidentally in Love." No word on if this was dedicated to Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent. I like the Counting Crows, but isn't this song more than two years old? It could be worse I guess. It seems like sporting events never get the music right.
8:05 - The contestants are introduced. Matt Holliday has no idea where he is supposed to go. Does he know the camera's on him?
8:07 - Prince Fielder is introduced. The players have to run from the outfield to home plate. I'm not sure if he's going to make it. I'd pay big money to watch him race Haloti Ngata.
8:10 - Ryan Howard -- my pick to win this thing -- does a little dance as he's introduced. Why don't more players show a little personality? I think he was "dusting his shoulders off." Is that still a move? Someone get Jay-Z on the phone.
8:15 -- Erin Andrews interviews Howard. Somehow I think he's happier than Bonds is when Pedro Gomez is launching questions in his direction.
8:21 - Justin Morneau hits four home runs to get the festivities started. That's not going to last. By the way, your announcers this evening are Chris Berman, Joe Morgan and Dusty Baker. Karl Ravech and the Baseball Tonight crew are in a studio. How is this fair? They deliver highlights every night during the season and don't even get to go to the All-Star Game?
8:32 - Holliday goes deep five times. He had an impressive start but then faded. I'm sure he doesn't mind though. He still carried my fantasy team to first place over the first half of the season. That has to count for something right?
8:34 - Peter Gammons interviews Bonds. Where's Pedro Gomez?? Did Gammons kidnap him? Did he have to sneak the interview in while Gomez went to the men's room? I'm in complete shock right now.
8:37 - Gammons finishes his interview with Bonds. No, he did not pull a Jim Gray and say "Barry, now is your chance to apologize to the baseball community about using performance-enhancing drugs." I can't say I wasn't secretely rooting for this to happen though. By the way, no respect for Magglio Ordonez. The interview took place during his at-bats.
8:38 - Ordonez manages just two homers; I guess the ESPN producers knew what they were doing. As Ordonez wraps up, Howard offers up a golf clap while thinking, "This is going to be too easy. Two years in a row for Ry-Ho."
8:42 - Our first The Bronx is Burning commercial. What's the over-under on these tonight? I'm going to say eight.
8:46 - The announcers interview Alex Rodriguez as Albert Pujols competes. Basically every question to A-Rod translates to, "Talk about how great you are." Joe Morgan asked him what the difference has been from last year. What I would give to hear him say, "Well I started dating this blonde adult dancer, and ever since then, I felt more comfortable at the plate."
8:48 - Pujols finishes with four homers. This is getting embarassing. By the way, Berman introduced the Cardinals slugger as "Winnie the Pujols" during introductions. Of all the cheesy nicknames provided by Berman, this has to be the worst.
8:50 - A-Rod says he's looking forward to the All-Star game because the ramifications are so big. Is Bud Selig underneath the table whispering answers to him? Does A-Rod know the Yankees are 10 games out of first and 8.5 out of the Wild Card?
8:52 - Alex Rios steps into the batter's box as the packed house at AT&T Park asks, "Who?" Rios manages five home runs. This Derby has been a serious yawn-fest so far.
8:58 - At least someone is entertained. A-Rod and Bonds are shown on camera cracking up. I wonder what they're laughing at. Maybe it's something like "Stu Scott thinks he's actually invited to my party tonight. He asked if he should bring pound cake!" Now that would be worth a laugh.
9:03 - The Baseball Tonight crew gets a shot to provide analysis from the studio again. I once interviewed Steve Phillips when I was a college intern at USA Today. I remember he was in the car when I was on the phone with him and he kept putting the chat on hold saying things like "Hold on, I'm about to pass a tractor trailer...one second, I'm trying to merge here." It really was great comedy. It's impossible for me to think of anything else when I see him on TV.
9:07 - Fielder delivers a disappointing three-homer performance. One of the balls goes into McCovey Cove though. That's a place I have to get to as a sports fan. Add it to the list along with Wrigley Field, Lambeau Field and Madison Square Garden.
9:10 - Berman says of Fielder, "He's put the power back in the kielbasa." I'm confused.
9:13 - David Ortiz stops Vladimir Guerrero in the middle of his turn to hand him a special bat. Finally some entertainment! If the hitters aren't going to put on a show, at least they can give us some reason to watch.
9:14 - Speaking of Ortiz, if you could go out and have a beer with any living athlete, who would it be? Big Papi has to rank high among Red Sox fans. The guy just looks like fun.
9:16 - Joe Morgan reminds us for the 100th time that Howard is his guy. Is it too late to change my pick?
9:18 - On a sidenote, I can't stop spilling stuff on my shirt. So far I've managed a sweet pepper stain from a sub, a chocolate stain from a nutrition bar and water stains from missing my mouth when taking a drink. Sometimes I feel like a 2-year-old trapped in a 24-year-old's body. This is one of those times.
9:20 - Guerrero finishes with five homers and is guaranteed a spot in the next round with Rios and Hollilday. Get ready for Howard to blow these guys out of the water.
9:25 - Howard struggles just like the rest of the guys. "I don't think he got that one," Berman says, less than a second before Howard hits his first homer to center field.
9:27 - This legitimately has a chance to be the worst Home Run Derby ever. Howard is out with three homers. He explains to Pujols afterwards, "I was swinging too hard." Swinging too hard?? C'mon Ryan, you can do better than that.
9:30 - Morneau and Pujols take part in a swing-off for the final spot in the second round. Baker says he likes to hear players "talking stuff" to one another. What's your favorite "talking trash" synonym? There's talking noise, talking junk, talking smack, and now talking stuff. I'm a 'talking noise' guy.
9:35 - Pujols hits a couple bombs to advance to the second round. The competitors still alive: Holliday, Rios, Guerrero and Pujols.
9:36 - Unbelievable interview by Erin Andrews with Pujols. First she asks him how much pressure he felt in the swing-off. Umm, didn't this guy play in the World Series last season? I think he can handle this. And number two, what's his strategy in the next round? I'm going out on a limb for this one, but I think it's probably to hit more home runs.
9:45 - Holliday gets the final round started. On one of his home runs, Berman screams, "Holliday puts this ball on holiday!" Yes, I'm still confused.
9:46 - Holliday curses after missing a couple balls, and ESPN has to bleep it out. Good stuff. He finishes with eight homers, and the camera spans the crowd to a fan holding a sign that says "BA-BOOM." Can't they do better than that? Who sits at home thinking 'I have a great idea for a sign to bring to Home Run Derby...BA-BOOM!"
9:49 - Berman explains that "on holiday" means "on vacation" in Canada. Morgan and Baker do the announcers version of the smile and nod.
9:50 - Morgan randomly yells out, "Jon Miller has Cal Ripken." Berman and Baker don't acknowledge his comment and seem utterly confused. As am I. I can't believe I've been writing this thing for two hours.
10:00 - Rios puts on a great show, hitting 12 bombs. If nothing else, at least more fans will know who he and Holliday are after this thing.
10:07 - The bottom line on ESPN reminds us that The Bronx is Burning will be shown immediately after the All-Star game. Thank goodness. I'm sure the majority of the viewing public was extremely concerned.
10:08 - Guerrero steps to the plate. Berman, Baker and Morgan spend a full five minutes debating whether his first shot is in fact a home run even though anyone watching can see it's short. Do I sound grumpy yet?
10:11 - Guerrero takes pitches in Home Run Derby but not in real games. Go figure. Baker says he's taking breaks in between pitches because he's enjoying the music, which is currently Biggie Smalls. That might have been my favorite moment of the night.
10:15 - Some guy with a red shirt and a sweet mustache just bowled over about five kids to get to a home run ball hit by Vlad. Guerrero finishes with nine homers in the second round. They have to be using different balls since the first round. It's like a completely different contest.
10:25 - The camera keeps focusing in on Pujols' kid as he takes his turn. Think about what it would be like to have Pujols as your dad. Does this kid just walk into Dairy Queens in St. Louis and scream "My dad is Albert Pujols and I want an Oreo Blizzard!" That's what I'd do.
10:33 - Pujols finishes with nine homers, setting up a Rios-Guerrero final.
10:42 - An ESPN Deportes anchor interviews Guerrero in Spanish. He says each question twice -- once in English and once in Espanol. I took Spanish for four years of high school and one year in college and picked up about five words.
10:45 - Rios hits a disastrous two homers in the final. THAT WAS ONE OF THE GREATEST MOMENTS IN THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN SPORTS! Sorry, I just morphed into the announcers from last week's hot dog-eating contest. I'm back now.
10:50 - A graphic scrolls across the screen telling us that Guerrero needs three homers to win the Home Run Derby. Pathetic.
10:52 - Vlad has three outs and just one homer. This is serious pressure. Can you imagine being one of the greatest hitters of this generation and not being able to beat two homers for the Home Run Derby title? I think I'm going to root for this.
10:53 - Two homers and seven outs. They might have to have a swing-off because of a two-homer tie. Unbelievable.
10:55 - Guerrero finally hits his third homer and walks away as the 2007 Home Run Derby champ. Congratulations. That does it for me. This has been a strong three-hour run. I would say goodnight, but The Bronx is Burning is next. Let me know how it is.