One of the best parts of the MLB All-Star Game festivities is the Home Run Derby. I can remember as a kid waiting with great anticipation to see which slugger could muscle a few dingers out of the park to stake claim as the ultimate power hitter.
Some will argue that it’s just glorified batting practice or that the derby doesn’t represent anything of value. The derby has it’s critics, but to them I would say…just take it for what it is. Forget about WAR, DIPS, BABIP and Bill James. Separate yourself from the “mental/strategic game” for a couple hours and just watch.
While I have plenty of memories from the Home Run Derbies of my youth (mid to late 80′s) – including a larger-than-life Dave Parker (hit 6 to win) in 1985, Andre “The Hawk” Dawson (4) in 1987 and Eric Davis and Ruben Sierra (each hit 3) in 1989 – there has never been a Derby that could compare to 2008.
This is a Rangers blog, so I know I don’t have to recount the derby blow-by-blow (there’s a video below for that) and get into Josh’s story (there’s a book for that) and what his performance that night meant in the bigger picture of life, but here was my reaction – my jaw dropped…I laughed in disbelief…I laughed some more…I may have cried…and then I hit the rewind button on my DVR and watched it again.
I wanted to put together a dramatized video, recreating my reaction from that memorable night, but couldn’t get the funding…I’m not cheap.
Hamilton hasn’t been in another Derby since, and I’m actually grateful for that.
I’m not grateful because I’m glad Josh isn’t risking his health.
I’m grateful because that moment could never be recreated or topped. Meaning that a return to the Derby for Josh, while it could result in a Derby win (Justin Morneau actually won the Derby in ’08), would more than likely be anti-climatic and too ordinary.
My point is this…enjoy tonight. We don’t have any of our guys in the Derby, but there are some great players participating. One of my favorite parts of the Derby is to watch the other players react to the bombs and watch how much fun they are having. The next night…it matters, but tonight it’s all for fun.
My official prediction for tonight – Prince Fielder over Mark Trumbo in the final.
Josh Hamilton 2008 Home Run Derby Video: