Monday, July 12, 2010

Home Run Derby

I could have three days off from watching the Sox. Three days off from blogging about baseball.* Maybe even three days off from Wikipedia.

I could use the All-Star Break for baking cookies, reading a book, going for a run or some other simple pleasure. Instead I'm watching the Home Run Derby.

Home Run Derby by Vivian, age 8.5 months

Here's what I have learned so far about the Derby and the All-Star Game, also known as the Midsummer Classic. The All-Star Game has been played annually since 1935, usually on the second Tuesday of each July. Remember how I was hoping the "break" was a week or two?  Nope. All teams have at least three days off, one day before and one day after the All-Star Game. 

The day off prior to the game has been dedicated to the Home Run Derby since 1985. There have been slightly different formats since the Derby began (different numbers of players, different ratios of representation from the leagues, not carrying homeruns between rounds, one v. one competition for the four final players). Currently four players from the Nationals and four players from the American League compete. There are three rounds; after the first round, the four players with the most homeruns advance. After the second round, two players advance. In each round the players get ten outs to score as many homeruns as possible. An out is any ball that is swung at that is not a homerun. Homeruns carry over from the first to second round, but the scoreboard is reset for the two players in the final round.

I stepped into the batting cage for the first time this weekend. I hit baseballs at 50mph, and even though I "check swung" at all of them, I was happy with how many balls I hit AND the fact that I knew the definition of check swing (not following through with the bat). 

I thought maybe the Home Run Derby would use a pitching machine to keep everything even. Nope again. Players use a pitching coach or someone else of their choosing to gently (about 60mph?) toss balls over the mound. 

David Ortiz is stepping up to the plate. Hopefully ESPN won't cut to that annoying guy and the anatomy of the home run swing, although I did learn an interesting fact from him. The average home run travels 398 feet, but in the Home Run Derby the average increases by over 20 feet.

More tomorrow on the All-Star Game... too exciting to miss.

*I know, I know. I haven't exactly been a blog queen recently. We've been away from home and internet access seven out of the last ten days. Blogging from the iPhone has gotten old so I've totally slacked and I'm sorry. Dad, look forward to "What the eef is an eephus?" accompanied by a tribute to Teddy Williams later this week. 

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