Monday, July 14, 2014

When The Home Run Derby Actually Mattered

I'm coming home.  Coming home.  Tell the world I'm coming home.
Hoo boy, today marks the first of the three worst days of the year if you are a sports fan.  You have the Derby tonight, the All Star Game tomorrow, and the ESPYs on Wednesday.  That's it.  BY DESIGN.  Nothing else is happening.  Granted, after the nonsense of "back-back-backs" this evening, we get to the crown jewel of the sport AKA The Taco Bell Celebrity Softball Game.  I spoiled it last week that James Denton (has not acted in 10 years but still shows up every year anyway) is back for the 40th year in a row and I can also confirm that NELLY HAS RETURNED!  He hasn't played since the game in STL and he was fantastic (Bobby Knight played 1B that year and it was so LULZ).  Nelly is the best.  That leads me to Kevin Love who might be the first ever celebrity softball player to rescind his commitment to this fine game.  I mean, it makes sense.  He's about to leave Minneapolis so he probably doesn't want to get booed even though no one can blame him for wanting out but still--I lost a lot of respect for K-Love when he bailed on the softball game.  There are some things you that you just don't do.

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).

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Participating in a home run derby was ELITE. Watching one not so much. When I played usually played five outs an inning and if a fly ball was caught that counted as two outs. When the family gets together me Lange Jud and the wig master always have a game of whiffleball Homerun derby in the backyard

Larry

GMoney said...

Great comment! The sad thing is that it has been 20 years give or take since my final Derby so I have a hard time remembering the rules outside of Cramer being a bad-ass OBVZ.

That family derby sounds like a terrific way to avoid talking to people. I approve.

Anonymous said...

The HR Derby is indeed one of the most boring sporting events of the year. Made 1000x worse with Chris Berman getting all sweaty on the air.

I see that Jim Thome is playing in the celebrity softball game as well. He's my pick for MVP. If there is a guy more perfect for slow pitch softball, I haven't seen him.

As for my legendary double-fence shot, it was not Etoll's van. It was a friend of his that was also there that day because there was a big swim meet. I think Etoll was the one that saw the damage and he reported it to the owners of the van. I do remember that he congradulated me on this feet. After it happened, I immediately ran (literally ran) back to G$'s house. I'm not exactly sure how I was outed for doing it to be honest with you.

I know there are group of guys our age that still play HR derby back in Naptown. That is ELITE. I would love to play again someday.

Excellent shot from the Goodyear Blimp of Oakwood Park.

-Damman

GMoney said...

You have no idea how long I spent trying to find a picture of Glenwood. It is embarrassing.

I disagree with the Wesche boys being ELITE for still doing the Derby. I don't know...it just seems like I'm too old to be shagging fly balls. Derby is a kid's game.

Anonymous said...

Once a year there is a double elimination Homerun derby tournament in Malinta. It is teams of three and although I haven't done it in a few years it is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

It is a great way of avoiding hanging out with everyone and we don't have to worry about watching the kids. Until they want to join which ruins everything.

Bulls are making some moves. Gets me excited until rose blows out another knee

Larry

GMoney said...

LOL Malinta

Anonymous said...

Backyard baseball > hr derby

Dut

GMoney said...

Both are fine events indeed but let's call a spade a spade here. Backyard Baseball died when Big Perm relocated to the desert. Derby lives on.

Nibbles said...

Backyard Baseball was never the same once Brentan got shipped off to CCNO.

T. Iceman said...

I never double fenced during derby play but I did double fence during league play. I'm pretty sure it was off Hoover and the A's. The ball rolled to the basketball fence. Fouty was king of the double fence shot. And king of the post game eat 2 large pizzas by himself.

I would still play homerun derby if someone asked. That shit is awesome.

GMoney said...

Looks like the only thing that prevented Iceman from falling in love with baseball is the fond memories of the Double Fence!

ELITE CCNO reference.

Anonymous said...

Double fence @ glenwood aint shit
- Fouty Blue Jay's HOF

Prime99 said...

If I recall correctly, I had a couple birthday parties where my dad set up a game of "Line Ball." While this is one of the few positive contributions he made to my life, it was a good one. G$ and Buke would have had to have been there, but it was basically home run derby where the field was split into sections (1 point past a certain point, 2 past that point, etc.) it was set like a football field, so you couldn't hit it too far right or left. Does this ring a bell with anyone or is this just #idelies?

CA plays a game called Indian Ball. When I moved here I assumed everyone just immediately lost.

Cakes said...

I miss HR Derby. In Waterville (a far superior town to Napoleon) we played at City Park and Waterworks Park. I've only managed to hit HR's at City park because the other field was like trying to play in Comerica before they shortened the fence. We used to use second base as home plate and still had problems going yard.

When the use of actual baseball diamonds was not possible, it was front yard HR derby with tennis balls. However, when we used tennis balls, pitchers were encouraged to throw as hard or as nasty as they could. Curves, Sliders and knuckleballs were all fair game. This made smashing those tennis balls over the power line awesome. Nothing better than turning on one of your friends lame curve balls. Pretty sure I came close to throwing out my arm a few times playing this game.

I enjoy the All Star break because it allows me to catch up on the DVR. Fuck the MLB HR derby. I will probably watch the first round and that's it.

Anybody watching "The Leftovers"?

GMoney said...

Prime, I remember a few birfday parties in Anthony Wayne Acres (lots of cocaine!) but this Lineball has me lost.

Dudebro, give it a rest. What kind of a dumb fucking name is Waterville? Napoleon is an homage to one of history's greatest dictators!

Over the past few years, I have run into Fouty a couple times while at Brick and Brew or Ribfest. Nice guy. Not nearly as husky as he used to be (but still husky).

Grumpy said...

Cakes, I have The Leftovers taped. Worth watching?

Anonymous said...

Fouty nearly took me opposite field double fence during a game. Now that would have been quite a feat.

Waterville is known for asshole cops...that's it.

-Damman

GMoney said...

Grump, I like The Leftovers but it is slow. It seems to be dividing the internet at the moment. I really enjoyed The Strain last night. It seems like the complete opposite of that faggy True Blood shit.

Fouty once hit a bomb off of my Orioles even though I stuck my glove out too far and catcher's interfered with his swing. My mitt went halfway out to the mound while the ball went halfway to Saturn. This is not some Bill Brasky legend either. That happened. Fouty was also world famous for hitching up his britches after every pitch because he was beefy.

GMoney said...

I love how this has evolved into Mike Fouty Day.

Cakes said...

Can't argue with asshole cops in Waterville. That be the TRUF!

Your town is named after a dictator. That's pretty cool. Our school district is named after a General who fought Indians all the time. Also cool. Let's call it a wash.

I'm enjoying "The Leftovers". It's got really good acting and is pretty creepy. I'm not ready to go nuts over it yet but it's definitely worth a look, Grump.

Last night's episode was really good but I was kind of shocked they didn't check in on other characters. Interesting choice.

I also gave "The Strain" a try last night. Walder Frey and Rudy are in it, so that's something. It was good enough to get me to watch next week. I usually don't do this type of show but during the summer, your choices are limited. FX doesn't usually let me down either.

Anonymous said...

Back in 82 I double fenced it at glenwood
- uncle Rico

Anonymous said...

Glenwood park is more dangerous than downtown Detroit
- marv hill

Prime99 said...

At least you recognize Anthony Wayne for its finest import/export: cocaine. The powered donuts that BS would bring to the party were the best!

Anonymous said...

LOL, Marv! You took that gun shot in the ass like a man!

We could have a full month of material revolving around Glenwood Park/Little League.

-Damman

GMoney said...

No kidding. I've already started mentally putting together my all-time Nap Little League team. It may never come in post form but definitely will be screamed about at a bar at some point. The debate between who plays first Fouty or Mike Gerdeman could get heated.

Fitzenreiter pitches. This is not up for debate.

Prime99 said...

^^^Agreed on P

Cakes said...

Haslam just bought himself out of trouble. Even though he's clearly guilty of fraud, I like him WAY more than our last owner who enjoyed tinkering with his soccer team more than focusing on the Browns.