An Almost Timely Home Run Derby Post

Well, that was a fun derby!

I know there will be detractors for any and all formats of the event, but I personally like the timed format they’ve adopted over the 10 out structure.  I do wish they would have equal AL and NL participants, but that’s more of a preference than anything.  As long as people are mashing taters, then we’re good.

This year was unusual for Chicago fans because we had two members of the Cubs take part: Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber.

In an ideal world, I would have liked to see both of them eliminated in the first round.  If I saw evidence or did research, then maybe my thoughts would be different, but I think that players could burn out a bit more in the second half, or lose their pop a bit.  I’d rather see them save their energy for games that make a difference, even though it would be fun to see them win.

Frank Thomas didn’t have that problem in 1995 when he won the Home Run Derby.  That year, he hit 40 total for the regular season and it looks like it was an even split.  To commemorate that win, here are some random Moments & Milestones cards that don’t correlate with that season that I got at the 2015 NSCC.  Gotta post them sometime!

A few years away from 1995

Career Home Run #2
August 31, 1990 – White Sox at California Angels

Frank’s second home run of his MLB career was hit off of Mark Langston in the top of the 7th inning with 2 on (the first of 6 he would hit off of Langston).  That doubled the score and extended the lead 6-2.

Oh!  Here’s one!

Career Home Run #167
July 20, 1995 – White Sox vs. Boston Red Sox

Thomas tied the game in the bottom of the fifth with this solo blast he hit on the 9th pitch of the AB against Erik Hanson.

It’s hard to find M&M cards for FT

Career Home Run #269
June 18, 1998 – White Sox vs. Minnesota Twins

The twelfth homer of the season came off of Bob Tewksbury.  The White Sox were behind 0-4 in the bottom of the 4th.  This didn’t do much to sway the game, but it did get them on the board with 1 run.

I have a lot for Maddux and plan to get more soon

Career Home Run #290
May 7, 1999 – White Sox vs. Oakland Athletics

It was already the makings of the blowout when Frank hit a 2-run homer in the bottom of the second against Tom Candiotti.  That brought the score to 6-0 in the early part of the game.

I only found 1 more at the 2017 NSCC

Career Home Run #309
May 24, 2000 – White Sox vs. New York Yankees

His eighth home run of the 2000 season came against admitted steroid user Andy Pettitte in the bottom of the first.  That solo shot was the first run of the game.

One day I’ll come across a good batch for cheap

Career Home Run #399
July 22, 2003 – White Sox vs. Cleveland Indians

This next card is another one from the bottom of the first.  This time there was one man on.  Jason Davis gave Thomas something to hit on the fourth pitch of the AB, giving the Sox an early 2-0 lead.

After all, I still need 500+ of these things

Career Home Run #500
June 28, 2007 – Toronto Blue Jays at Minnesota Twins

Carlos Silva is the answer to the trivia question asking which pitcher gave up the milestone 500th career home run.  This was the 13th homer with Toronto.  This one came at the top of the first with two men on, and the team already up one.  Not a great day for Silva, but probably a memorable one for both sides.

SP Version from 2015 DK

I almost got my wish for the tournament.  Baez hit first in his round and managed 16 home runs, and earned bonus time for hitting two homers of 440 ft.  However, he lost to Max Muncy anyway.  One down.

A bit optimistic

Schwarber also hit 16 in his first round.  He also earned bonus time, which he needed.  Alex Bregman almost beat him (and probably should have).  Alex hit a lot of close ones at the last minute, which made for a thrilling round.

Rhys Hoskins started the 2nd round with 20 homers, which seemed insurmountable.  However, Schwarber crushed #21 on the last pitch of the original time limit. He had also earned the bonus time again, but didn’t have to spend it.

That meant he ended up facing Bryce Harper in the finals (who cruised there easily) – Kyle went first and hit 18 after his third earned bonus time.  Harper was struggling big time for a while and was far behind most of the round.  However, after his second time out, he went on a huge, impressive run at the end and tied it at the end of regulation.  Of course Bryce also earned bonus time and got the winner in those final 30 seconds to win the trophy in front of the home town crowd.

This was a great group of players for the derby and all of the rounds were fun to watch and many came down to the wire.  You couldn’t have planned it much better, and I look forward to seeing it again next year (hopefully with fewer Cubs).

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