July 15, 2008
The Home Run Derby is a contest of contradictions. On one hand, its main ingredient — the home run (a.k.a. "dinger," "blast," "roundtripper," "deep," "shot," "long ball," etc.) — is meant to be enjoyed with one's own two eyes. There is simply no way to enjoy the majestic length, the swift acceleration or the jaw-dropping violence of a homer on a two-dimensional medium like television ... Yes, even if it's one of those fancy HD jobs you got for $900 at Costco last weekend.
On the other, Home Run Derby was a classic '59 television show and ESPN covers the All-Star edition each year with an amount of reporters usually deployed to cover a political convention. The artificial construct of the game within the game screams, "Televise me!"
As an avid Derby watcher from 1988-2006 (with a trip to the '90 contest at Wrigley thown in there) and an attendee of last year's dong-fest in San Francisco and Monday night's Hamilton-lovefest in the Bronx, I've experienced both.
I've taken the liberty of listing the differences between each after the jump.
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Live advantage: Not having to listen to Chris Berman's incessant "back, back, back" that became tired some time during the H.W. Bush administration. (Also, if Iracane at Walkoff Walk reports correctly, avoiding Rick Reilly's commentary ranks as a sizable blessing. Like MLB would have said no if Albert Pujols wanted to enter the Derby and interrupt the Kiwanis Club meeting. )
At-home advantage: Being able to watch Erin Andrews ... especially with one of those fancy HD jobs you got for $900 at Costco last weekend.
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Live advantage: Being able to hear the chants of "We want Jason! We want Jason!" in reference to Giambi as vote-in winner Evan Longoria takes his swings.
At-home advantage: Not being able to hear the cretins in the bleachers chant "Heroin! Heroin! Heroin!" as Hamilton put on a spectacular performance.
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Live advantage: Being able to watch a fellow media member take his seat with a beer he just purchased for $9.50 at the Yankee Stadium concession stand, even though it's just about the least professional thing you could imagine a media member doing.
At-home advantage: Being able to drink a beer yourself, even if you're working or blogging, because, hey, is your wife or dog really going to tell your boss?
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Live advantage: Hearing the clunk each time one of Hamilton's blasts hit a billboard or facade in RF.
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Live advantage: Being present as Yankee Stadium rocks 'n rolls during Hamilton's 28-dinger turn.
At-home advantage: Being able to switch the channel to something different once Hamilton's turn is over and the noise and excitement quickly swirls down the drain.
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Live disadvantage: Not completely understanding the rules and leaving as soon as Justin Morneau was done hitting, because you thought the whole thing was done on aggregate scoring because that's how it was done the first two rounds and because you thought the contest was over and because you really wanted to beat the crowd and because you didn't want your shuttle to get caught in traffic on the way back to your hotel.
At-home disadvantage: Flipping back to see Hamilton close out the Home Run Derby and get the funny-looking trophy, only to see Justin Morneau win the final round — which was NOT part of aggregate scoring, after all — on his way to becoming a mere footnote in All-Star history.