|I'm coming home. Coming home. Tell the world I'm coming home.|
But before that, we have the Home Run Derby. If you ever wanted to watch Brian Dozier and Todd Frazier hit batting practice to the sounds of Chris Berman's gin-soaked dulcet tones then boy do I have an event for you! I have no idea how or why people watch this. It is SO BORING. The Home Run Derby makes a regular baseball game seem like storming the beaches of Normandy. If any of you watch this, shame on you.
I do want to talk about the concept of the home run derby though. Watching a derby fucking blows. But actually participating in a Derby, on the other hand, is ELITE. I'd like to think that all of us have enjoyed a Derby at some point in our lives so let's discuss that today.
The key to a successful derby IMO is that you have to have teams as opposed to individuals. That way, the best slugger can get paired with the slap hitter. It's all about an even playing field. I preferred teams of either 3 or 4 per side. Two guys makes the fielder have to work his ass off and 5+ means less swings. Three or four is perfect.
Next up, you have to find an acceptable venue. In Nap, there were a few choices. You could ride your bike out to Oakwood (above) but when there are thick woods behind the fence of every field, you run the risk of losing a lot of baseballs. If you went down to Riverdowns, you are white trash. That left Glenwood Park AKA The Mecca of Home Run Derby. What a facility! It was perfect. Beyond LF you had Iceman's urban prison basketball court. CF was the city pool and RF featured the picturesque Napoleon Municipal Golf Course (9 Holes of Heaven). It was absolutely gorgeous (plus it was close to my house). The fence was 180 feet so it wasn't hard to put one out. HOWEVAH, Glenwood Park has the legendary DOUBLE FENCE feature. Oh man, what a feature! Beyond the original fence was a second fence about another 80-100 feet and in between was where other teams warmed up while Little League games were being played. So let's say that the double fence was a solid 275-300 feet. That's quite a poke for a 12-14 year old. Not to brag, but I've hit balls a lot farther than that in my life yet I was never able to conquer the double fence in my derby days.
I saw it happen twice though. Cramer did it and so did Damman. It was stunning and truly awe-inspiring. One of them, I think it was Damman, shattered the windshield of Etoll's van on the fly which still makes me laugh like a bastard to this day because the Ayatollah didn't even care that much. You will never see Etoll's face on an Ayatollah Assahollah t-shirt (count it). The Double Fence was a milestone for all Glenwood Derb-iers but it was nearly a guarantee that you were breaking someone's windshield and the game would end. Fuck it. It was worth it to see such a moon shot simply due to the rarity of the event.
Now we get to the rules that we usually played by. Since the numbers were often limited and thus the defense couldn't cover a ton of ground, any ball hit to the opposite field that was not a dinger was an automatic out. This was never debated. It was understood. If you can't pull the ball then fuck you. Derek Jeter would have been mediocre player by these rules. Robbing dongs was encouraged. If you put a guy in between the fences, any catch was not considered an out though. Of course, you had to lob the ball. I'm pretty sure that someone complained every inning that the pitcher was throwing too hard which is hilarious because no pitcher ever broke 40 mph. For some reason, doubles and triples were allowed (which makes no sense) but I forgot how those were judged. That should have never happened. Over the fence or GTFO. And, finally, the only rule that mattered: When Cramer rolled up his sleeves and turned his hat backwards like Griffey, HE MEANT FUCKING BUSINESS. God, he looked like such a chach when he did that shit. LOLZ!
I have many fond memories of Home Run Derby and I find it insulting that a large segment of America thinks that what ESPN televises tonight is that. It isn't. Tonight, it will end an hour later than it should when someone that you don't care about hits the State Farm ball into the third deck. Whatever. The only way a Derby should properly end is when the Cramer Brothers start fighting each other or a car gets destroyed. FACT. So let's share some memories in the comments today and you can thank me later for not having more LeBron takes (and I have them in the holster, bruh).