Author Archive

No sweat.

Hamilton hit another four out like it was nothing, made just four outs, then called Counsil off the mound and called it a round, with 32 homers total for the first two rounds.

It’s on to the Finals… after the break, of course…

Hamilton — 32
Morneau — 17

Hamilton back in the box

With “The Natural” music again playing, Hamilton steps up for the second round with nothing on the line. He can swing and miss 10 times if he wants, and he’ll still advance. But he’s up there hacking, and he just hit his first pitch out.

Braun bows out

Lots of pressure on the young Braun to step up here in the second round, and he got off to a fine start. Three of his first four swings resulted in homers to left, giving him a total of 10, seven shy of Morneau.

Braun hit four straight with six outs, creeping ever closer to that 17 mark and no doubt making Morneau sweat. But he popped three straight outs to left and lost all momentum. The Golden Ball was delivered with nine outs, and Braun flew out to right. End of round. End of Derby for Braun.

So Josh Hamilton (28) and Justin Morneau (17) advance to the finals, with the scoreboard to be wiped clean.

Good idea.

AL starter Cliff Lee was interviewed on the jumbotron and asked how he’d pitch Hamilton tonight.

“I’d walk him,” Lee said.

Morneau makes his case

The crowd is pretty dead after Hamilton’s heroics. All that chanting and cheering sapped the life out of the fans. Either that, or they’re just saving up their energy for when he comes back out. In fact, many of the All-Star players have cleared the field, as well. This is a party that peaked too early.

Justin Morneau also looked pretty lifeless early in his second round, but he was able to knock out five quick ones after four outs. That placed him one shy of tying Berkman, and he did so with seven outs, lifting one into the first row of the right-center bleachers.

The tie-breaker came with eight outs, Morneau turned on one up in the zone and lifted it out to right. Then he added insurance with back-to-back shots to the middle of the bleacher section.

The onus is now on Ryan Braun, who needs 10 homers to tie Morneau and have a chance at advancing to the finals.

Hamilton — 28
Morneau — 17
Berkman — 14
Braun — 7

Berkman’s back

Well, Hamilton was a tough act to follow, but Berkman did his best. He hit four homers before reaching five outs, then tired. Still, his first swing of the second round was a majestic blast to the upper deck, and he finished with six for the round.

Here are your updated totals. Remember that the first-round totals carry into the second round, so the top two after this round will move on to the finals…

Hamilton — 28
Berkman — 14
Morneau — 8
Braun — 7

And as Reggie Jackson just said on ESPN: “If nothing else happens, the fans have gotten their money’s worth.”

Numbers to note…

Just calculated this, and Clay Counsil’s ERA is 75.61 right now. I’m sure he’s happy to wear it.

Also, we’re only one round in, and Hamilton is already in 10th place on the all-time Home Run Derby home run list.

Get on your feet

Whoever scheduled Hamilton to bat last in the first round has a definite flair for the dramatic. This was quite a show.

It was impressive enough that Hamilton went deep 28 times — breaking Bobby Abreu’s first-round record of 24, set in 2005 (and note that the other three participants advancing to the second round had 23 homers total). But the way he did it forced the fans to rise to their feet and his fellow All-Stars to shake their heads in amazement.

I already mentioned the homer that cleared the ballpark. I’d chronicle all the others, but suffice to say he was in a groove. He sent a few to the upper deck, sent one to the last row of the bleachers and sent another to the back of the black batter’s eye (drawing another huge roar and chants of “Ham-il-ton! Ham-il-ton!).

His seventh shot was an upper-deck blast to right, prompting Edinson Volquez — the man whom the Reds acquired for Hamilton last December — to walk over to Hamilton with a briefcase that he placed on the plate. Still not sure what that was all about.

With six outs, he hit a deep fly to right, and a fan reached over the wall and snagged it. The umpire ruled it was not a homer, and Hamilton raised his arms as if to say, “Are you kidding me?” The crowd booed the ump mercilessly, but it didn’t really matter. Hamilton just hit the next one out legitimately. Mid-round, Hanley Ramirez’s kid approached Hamilton with a bottled water to help him cool off. But there was no cooling Hamilton in this round.

He hit 13 in a row with eight outs, for crying out loud! When that amazing run ended as Hamilton fouled off a pitch, the crowd jokingly booed him. Tough crowd. But then they went right back into the “Ham-il-ton!” chant.

When the round was complete, the theme music from “The Natural” played.

You already know Hamilton’s story. You know how he had a dream that he was in this event, using it as a platform to show the world that you can overcome drug abuse. And you might even know that he brought a 71-year-old batting practice pitcher (Clay Counsil) from his hometown along for the ride. But to know all that, and then watch Hamilton in action here tonight was a memorable experience.

Oh, and that was only the first round. Let’s just hope Hamilton didn’t tire himself out. And let’s hope poor Clay Counsil’s arm doesn’t fall off.

OK, now we actually do need an ESPN breather. Here are you participants for the second round, with the homer totals carrying over…

Hamilton — 28
Berkman — 8
Morneau –8
Braun — 7


Josh Hamilton’s third swing, and he knocks it out of the park. Literally. The ball cleared that white fence atop the the Bud Light sign hanging behind the right-field bleachers.

Teammate Ian Kinsler ran toward the batter’s box to congratulate Hamilton, and the crowd went nuts.

Hamilton predicted he could hit one out of here and, by golly, he was right.

Showing off Braun

Ryan Braun (useless tidbit: his family name was “Koufax” until his mom remarried and took his stepfather’s name) was having a pretty uneventful round until he reached the six-out mark. He looked dead in the water at that point (one homer at the time), but he knocked a couple liners out to left and gained some momentum.

From that point, Braun was in control. He hit his fourth homer with seven outs, then knocked out three in a row with eight outs — the last of which going to the opposite field in right-center.

It wasn’t flashy, but it was enough for Braun to advance.

Berkman — 8
Morneau — 8
Braun — 7
Uggla — 6
Sizemore — 6
Utley — 5
Longoria — 3

Next up: Hamilton, rounding out the first round