The 2016 Home Run Derby has come to a close, leaving a heap of disemboweled baseballs, empty Gatorade bottles, shattered LED bulbs, and sort-of-meaningless-until-you-squint-at-it glory in its wake. As Chris Berman gargles into the distance, we crown the derby’s winners and losers below.
Winner: Giancarlo Stanton
Stanton hit the most home runs ever, 61, in a home run derby. (Sixty-one home runs.) He was responsible for 20 of the night’s 21 longest home runs. (Sixty-one home runs!) He patted nervous, Gatorade-proffering children on the head. (Sixty! One! Home! Runs!) He never looked very nervous. (SIXTY. ONE.)
The derby was Giancarlo Stanton versus everybody else; Stanton at the plate, and Stanton warming up or resting. Songs will be written about his first round. The announcers just started naming things they saw in the distance that a Stanton ball might hit — like they were playing some outlandish, grown-up version of I spy — and none of it even sounded absurd. The derby was always Stanton’s for the taking; he took it, bought it a dozen roses, spun it across the ballroom floor, and sent it home with a gift basket in the morning.
Loser: Chris Berman
BACKBACKBAKBACKBAKBCKABAKABKACKABKAC [deep breath] BAKBACBABACKBABKKBACBKABACKBACBKABKBCAKBCKABACBKBACBKA [will he keep going?] BCKABKCABBACKABCKABACKBAKCBKABAKC [must he?] BAKBACKABACKBABKACBAKCBACKBABCKBACK
Winner: The 2016 All-Star Uniforms
The retro San Diego uniforms were always going to be — and I am going to use some baseball terminology here — hit or miss. They’re the former! The bright yellow, the unabashedly dumb brown, the ironed-on-by-the-PTA script, the mustard yellow catcher’s gear: It is all so ’70s, so ugly, so wonderful. Please, Padres. Please do this always.
Loser: Robinson Canó
Here is how my notes on Canó’s derby bid begin: “:( cano :( :( :( :( :(.” Robbie walked up to the plate a dead man, having just observed, along with the rest of Earth and most of Mars, Giancarlo Stanton’s thumping for the ages in the first round. When Canó stopped for his timeout, with three — as in one, two, three — home runs to Stanton’s 24, his kids ran up to him in miniature Canó jerseys and … I don’t know, they looked happy and proud and excited, and I’m sure they were, of course they were, of course, and he won the derby outright in 2011, and hey, my dad has never hit any home runs (sorry, Dad), and nobody would even think to invite him to face Giancarlo, but also three, and also 24, and that face Canó kept making after he hit pop-ups, and also the creeping weight of Father Time, like one of those lead vests the dentist puts on you before an X-ray, and also three and 24. And then Canó’s timeout ended and his dad, who was his designated pitcher, hit him with a pitch!!!!! In the end, Canó got seven home runs, which wasn’t really that bad of an outing except that it was juxtaposed with GIANCARLO STANTON, and we are all old, and getting older, and the people who love us will in all likelihood watch us fail, someday. (And when they do, may they all jump up and down, like the little Canós.)
Winner: People With Catching Receptacles in the Audience
At one point, someone along the left field wall snatched a ball out of the glove of one of the outfield kids. (A kid later swiped a would-be home run from Todd Frazier in the final round so … hey, welcome to how justice works in America, folks.) Everybody and their mother had a glove, which was good, because just about every person in the balconies of the way-the-hell-out-there Western Metal Supply Co. building was in continuous risk of bodily harm from what amounted to literal goddamn 450-foot line drives. Multiple beers were shattered — literally shattered — and at least several balls were kept away from Zack Hample.
Loser: Todd Frazier
Does anyone care about anything as much as Todd Frazier, the 2015 Home Run Derby champion, cares about the derby? No, they do not. You could almost hear his internal, self-hating monologues, and in the final round, as he failed to challenge Stanton’s 20 homers, you could see it gathering in his eyes, like one of the Andy Murray fits of yesteryear. I’m sorry, Todd. There’s always next year.
Winner: The Kids
There is no sporting event that could not be improved by a rabid pack of children swirling in a panic just beyond the action.
Loser: The Scoreboard
It got to the point where the announcers were actively rooting for someone to hit Petco Park’s monstrous, 61-by-124-foot scoreboard. Mark Trumbo finally had the honors, though Stanton had a nice thwack to sponsor T-Mobile’s LED display.
[wakes up in the middle of the night] BACKBACKBACKBAKCBAKBACKABACKABKABCAKBABACKBAKCBAKBACKBAKBCAKBABCKABACKBAKCBAKABACKBAKACBKABACKBACKABAKCKABACKABACKABACKAABKCBACKABAKCKABAKACKCKCKBAKABACKBAKBACKBACKBACKBAKCBACKABKABCKABACKBAKBACKBACKBACKBAKBACKBACBKABAKCBKABACKBAKCBAKBACKBAKBACKBAKBACKBAKBACKBAKBACKBACK