Tonight, Vlad Guerrero followed in the footsteps of the great Angels who have gone before him by winning the homerun derby; namely Garrett Anderson. This year’s derby was a real pleasure to watch, although there were far fewer splash shots than Kenny Mayne and ESPN would have liked.
In most years, all of the action takes place in the first round. Usually, by the second round, the players are tired and the guy who hit ten in the first can’t get any in the second. But this year, Vlad, Rios, and Holliday tied for first exiting the first round with five; Pujols also advanced with four. In the second round, all four of them hit over 8, with Rios knocking 12. But Rios came up lame in the final, hitting only two and allowing a Guerrero a pressure free round to beat him.
The highlight of the evening was Vlad’s first round. He had no homers after 3 or 4 swings, when David Ortiz stopped him, grabbed his bat, and flipped it back toward the dugout. Then Ortiz brought out a large wooden rectangular case, which he unlocked to reveal a bat honed from the most sacred Dominican tree. (I just made that story up, but it could be true.) The bat hit a total of 17 bombs for Vlad, one that carried 503 feet, and the rest is history.
During the pregame, ESPN ran a segment showcasing the best homeruns of the last 100 years. As an Angel fan, I couldn’t help but notice that no Angels were included, and worse, three of the homers were against the Halos, (Dave Henderson, Cal Ripken, and David Ortiz). This made Vlad’s victory all the more sweet.