SBD/Issue 205/Events & Attractions

Brewers' Fielder Defeats Hometown Favorites In Home Run Derby

Fielder Becomes First Brewer
To Win Home Run Derby
Brewers 1B Prince Fielder last night became the "first Brewer to win the Home Run Derby when he bested" Rangers RF Nelson Cruz in the final round of the event at Busch Stadium, according to Tom Haudricourt of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Fielder hit the "four longest home runs of the competition and eight of the top 10, including a 497-foot blast in the first round and a 503-foot moon shot in the second round" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/14). In Toronto, Richard Griffin writes the Fielder-Cruz final round "wasn't exactly what the crowd of 45,981 had been hoping for," as Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols and Phillies 1B Ryan Howard, a St. Louis native, were eliminated in the semifinal round. But the final was a "good matchup of emerging young sluggers" (TORONTO STAR, 7/14). YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan notes silence "permeated Busch Stadium during the majority of the Home Run Derby," and Fielder's victory was "met with the excitement reserved for Arbor Day." The problem was that Pujols "barely made it out of the first round," and Howard "couldn't get to the finals, either." Fans "clapped politely for all but the longest homers, the exception being for Pujols," who "arrived to a presidential applause and a storm of flashbulbs." Pujols "rewarded his lieges with one home run and seven outs" to start the competition, before finishing the first round with five home runs. It "wasn't the worst Derby," but "compared to last season's -- perhaps the moment of the year in all of baseball -- nothing could stand up" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/14). In N.Y., Mark Feinsand notes the fans in attendance "were disappointed not to see either" Pujols or Howard "take home the title." None of the players "came close to matching" Rangers CF Josh Hamilton's performance last year, but the players "managed to keep the fans' interest -- at least until Pujols was eliminated" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/14).

FIELDER OF DREAMS: ESPN.com's Jayson Stark writes it was "not the most mesmerizing Derby show ever." But there is "always one magic moment, one indelible swing of the bat," which came when Fielder hit the 503-foot home run in the second round (ESPN.com, 7/14). SI.com's Ted Keith writes Fielder produced the "only memorable moments of an otherwise ho-hum Home Run Derby," and it "should at least give him a well-deserved glimpse at the national spotlight." Fielder was the "only one of the eight participants who consistently delivered the jaw-dropping power the Derby has become famous for" (SI.com, 7/14).

BACK, BACK, BACK: THE BIG LEAD writes the biggest story during the Home Run Derby was the "universal dislike" for ESPN's Chris Berman. It is "no surprise that some bloggers and baseball fans have grown tired of Berman's act, but the response on twitter was overwhelmingly negative." Three separate posts on Twitter read: "Joe Morgan and Chris Berman could ruin a birth;" "Back, Back, Back, I wish Chris Berman were GONE!!!;" and "Go away home run derby. You are too long. And Chris Berman makes watching you like having strep." THE BIG LEAD: "Is Berman still a viable commodity for ESPN? Or is the sample size of disgruntled bloggers and tweeters so small that Berman will exit on his own time?" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 7/14). In S.F., Scott Ostler writes the Home Run Derby is "great ... for about ten minutes," then "you realize you're watching fat, rich guys provoke Chris Berman to new heights of poetic frenzy" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/14).

BLAST FROM THE PAST: YAHOO SPORTS' David Brown writes of his first reaction to ESPN's Ball Tracker technology, "Why are they adding animated fireworks to the home runs?" Brown: "Finally I realized: The NHL on Fox had taken over the broadcast and was making every fly ball glow like a hockey puck" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/14). SPORTINGNEWS.com's Chris Littmann writes, "We're 13 years removed from the birth of ... the glowing puck on FOX, something that was ridiculed as one of the sillier ideas ever in the history of sports broadcasting. Evidently ESPN thought enough time had passed that it was time to bring it back. ... Maybe ESPN's mistake was touting Ball Tracker as something we should care about" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 7/14). ESPN's Skip Bayless said of Ball Tracker, "I hated it!" Bayless: "I can see the ball just fine without that. Unless, of course, you obscure it with some yellow streak that turns green if in fact the ball goes over the wall. I want to anticipate whether the ball is going over the wall" ("ESPN First Take," ESPN, 7/14).

STATE FARM WAS THERE: MLB.com's Doug Miller notes MLB fan Mark Weinberger was "asked to 'call a shot' by Pujols before the competition began for a prize package that included a new car and a flat-screen TV" as part of a sweepstakes from Derby title sponsor State Farm. Weinberger "wisely picked left field and got two tries" from Pujols, but he "missed out, hitting a line drive and a popup to center." Also, State Farm's "gold ball" promotion, which "awards money to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for every home run hit with the gold balls," helped net a donation of $665,000, "more than double the contribution in past years" (MLB.com, 7/14). Front Row Analytics indicated that State Farm received $22.85M in broadcast exposure for about 1 hour and 16 minutes of exposure time during ESPN's Home Run Derby broadcast. State Farm gained exposure through verbal mentions, stadium signage and on-screen graphics, and the broadcast media value was determined by comparing the total amount of in-broadcast exposure with the estimated cost of $150,000 for a 30-second spot on ESPN (Front Row).

Mauer's Cleats Will Be Auctioned With
Proceeds Supporting Livestrong Program
CHARITY STRIPE: In Minneapolis, Joe Christensen reports Twins C Joe Mauer for the Home Run Derby "donned cleats with bright yellow trim, after Nike approached him [with] the idea to auction the shoes with the proceeds supporting Lance Armstrong's Livestrong cancer research program" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/14). Meanwhile, MLB.com's Miller reports Fielder during the Derby helped win a $50,000 contribution "for a teen center" at the Bethalto Boys & Girls Club in Illinois as part of MLB's "annual charity promotion for Boys & Girls Clubs of America" (MLB.com, 7/14).

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