Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Well I figure with interest in the Home Run Contest and the All-star game in general dwindling, it was the perfect time to do a running commentary on it. So without any further ado, here is the HR contest through my eyes.

Round 1

First off, you’ll have to excuse me for missing the first two batters. You see, interest in the contest is also dwindling for me, and it took me until about 8:20 to decide that I would torture myself and watch the thing. By that time, Paul Konerko and hometown Richie Sexon have already batted and hit 6 HR’s a piece. Tori Hunter is just stepping up to bat to take his turn. I’ve also just realized that our announcers for the night are Chris Berman(of course), Joe Morgan(of course), and Mike Piazza(?). They’ll have various guests joining them throughout the night.

The pitcher keeps throwing curveballs down and away to Hunter. Hunter is becoming visibly frustrated. Wouldn’t it be great if Hunter became enraged and charged the mound? Actually, with steroids as rampant as they are, can the day that a HR contest contestant charges the mound and slugs the BP pitcher be far away? Lets hope not. Anyways, a rattled Tori only hits 3 out and settles nicely into last place.

Slammin Sammy is up next.
First HR. Wow! Nothing more to say. Unexplainable. Just a tremendous blast.
Chris Berman comments that it seems like a long time ago that he was traded for George “taco” Bell. You know that Berman was just waiting to use that line.
Second HR. 496 feet over the restaurant in left center.
Is Rick Reilly in Milwaukee? If he was there and was the guy pitching, maybe then we’d see our first mound charger in Sammy. Or maybe Sammy would just take aim at Rick rather than trying to hit HR’s.
Third HR. 480 feet. Almost to the flag in center.
Fourth HR. Almost to the same spot, but 22 feet farther. 502 feet.
HR # 5 goes 520 feet. It gets Sammy his first Standing O and Sammy chant.
5HR’s - 8 outs. The suspense is building. Could Sammy be eliminated in round 1??
Suspense over. Pop-up HR to right field. I haven’t thought of steroids yet. I promise.
By the way, is it in Sammy’s HR contest contract that he has to take at least 2 pitches between swings? Just wondering.
HR # 7 goes 482, # 8 is a line drive just over the 370 mark in left, # 9 goes 512, and an amazing #10 just went 524.
I think Sammy is in a groove. Basically a continuous Standing O right now. Richie Sexon is shown shaking his head as # 11 goes far and away.
HR # 12 almost hit off the jumbotron in center.
Mercifully for the other players, the 10th out arrives. Rich Eisen is interviewing Sammy. I’d like to tell you what he said, but I can’t understand a word of it. I’m not sure if it was because of Sammy’s accent or because Curt Schilling was cackling through the whole thing.

Jason Giambi to bat now. He hit a record 14 in last years first round. Alex Rodriguez is being interviewed now and said it is like Sammy is using a driver and everyone else has a 7-iron.
The Sellout(I mean Giambi) just hit 3 in a row after making 2 quick outs. He very quickly ties up Sexon and Konerko and then about 10 seconds later passes them with his 7th HR.
2 outs left – 3 HR’s needed to catch Sammy
1 more to tie – 1 out left!!! Can he do it??
A ground ball for the 10th out ends his bid to overtake Sammy. Still not a bad showing with 11 HR’s. Giambi doesn’t get an interview. Not like a Yankee has anything to say worth listening to anyways.

Lance Berkman of the Astro’s is next to the plate. He leads the Majors with 29 HR’s at the break.
3 quick outs for Lance.
Breaks the ice with a shot into the upper deck before getting 4 more quick outs. The crowd is getting restless now. They are trying to help Lance out.
He responds with his final 3 outs and finishes with only 1 HR. ESPN goes directly to commercial. No need to stick around and view the carnage.

Mmmmmm…. Chicken and rice. Nothing like a good wife to cook dinner!!

Nomahhhh just joined the panel as Alex Rodriguez heads up to bat. Alex makes 4 quick outs which adds up to 11 outs in a row without a HR for our contestants.

You’ll have to excuse me if I miss a few pitches here. This rice has some sort of sauce on it that is hypnotizing me.

I think A-Rod finished with 2 HR’s. Couldn’t we finish this contest a lot quicker if more than 1 guy could bat without having to go to commercial? Very frustrating.

Barry Bonds is the final batter. If he hits more than 6 HR’s, then Konerko would make it to round 2 with his 6, but Sexon would not get in with his 6. Why this is I do not know. Something about a tiebreaker. You’d think it’s a mute point with Barry up.
2 HR’s – 5 outs for Barry. Sexon has a nervous look on his face as he imagines that he may actually make it to round 2.
2 HR’s - 7 outs. The crowd is getting behind Barry. Trying to urge him on. Why not? It worked so well for Berkman, right?.
Oh My Goodness!! Barry is gone with only 2 HR’s. A very poor showing. Biggest surprise of the night. Barry’s talking to himself as he walks away. The microphone catches him saying, “I can’t do that!”.

Round 2

Konerko vs. Giambi
Sosa vs. Sexon

The way round 2 is formatted is foolish. It should be that whichever 2 players hit the most HR’s advance to the finals. Currently, if Giambi were to hit 9 and Konerko 8, and Sosa hit 5 while Sexon hit 4, then Giambi and Sosa would make the finals. Konerko would be out with 8 HR’s because he was matched up with Giambi. Not right.

Meanwhile, as I’m babbling, Konerko has 6 HR’s with 6 outs. After 4 more rapid outs, Konerko is done with 6. Can Giambi hit 7 or did he wear himself out?

3 HR’s – 3 outs for Giambi. Is it just me or is this the perfect stage for a streaker? Wimbledon just had one. Why not the HR contest too? C’mon people in Milwaukee!!! STREAK!! STREAK!! Umm…not that I want to see a streaker. It’s just that….. ummm… you see……

Woah! Look at this! Giambi has 5 HR’s with 9 outs! Could the Yankee bum be eliminated? Wouldn't it be great??
Darn it all!! The 6th HR for Giambi comes just before he makes his final out. This does mean, however, that we will have our first ever Swing-off, as Berman calls it. Each batter gets one swing. The first man to hit a HR while the other does not will advance.

Konerko up first. He takes 3 pitches before flying out to the warning track.
Now Giambi. He takes 4 pitches before blasting one into the upper deck. Giambi makes the finals. The funniest part was that the Milwaukee fans started booing after the 4th pitch that Giambi took because they wanted him to swing. Classic. There’s never a bad time to boo a Yankee.

Now time for Sosa and Sexon. Hometown Richie is up. The crowd boos again because the first pitch bounced in front of the plate. As if the BP pitcher is purposely trying to get Sexon out. Gimme a break. Just a tough crowd, I guess. Things are tougher for Richie as he has 0 HR’s and 5 outs.

There is some gimmick going on where each contestant has a fan assigned to them. The fan assigned to the winning contestant will win a $250,000 house from Century 21. They keep showing the woman assigned to Sexon. Tough to describe her. Lets just say that all I can think of is that lady from Fried Green Tomatoes who wrapped herself up in saran wrap. Not that I’ve seen that movie or anything. Lets move on.

Richie hits a couple homers with 9 outs to double his total to 4. You gotta think Sammy will beat that. But I thought Barry would hit 6, too.

As a side note, those Espy award ads with Samuel L. Jackson are starting to annoy me. They are running far too often. Hmmm… I wonder what the L. stands for in his name? Does anyone know? E-mail me if you do. Actually, e-mail me even if you don’t know. I just got an idea for a new contest!! E-mail me your idea of what the L should stand for. I’ll post the best submissions in a follow-up column. It’ll be fun. Trust me on this. My e-mail address is Sportsscene@hotmail.com.

Oh sorry, Sammy’s up. 2 outs – 0 HR’s. I didn’t miss anything.

Some goofball from Londonderry, NH is the fan assigned to Sammy and is doing that kiss and pat your chest thing that Sammy does. Goofball.

Piazza just asked what the capital of NH is. I must do research and find out what is the highest level of education that Piazza completed.

Sammy just hit his 4th HR of the second round out of the park. Literally. Out of the park. It landed on the street beyond the left field stands. And that’s not a short HR like it would be at Fenway.

Sosa and Sexon tied at 4. Sammy has only 3 outs left. Could it be?? Another swingoff….????

NOT A CHANCE!! Sammy just hit one 518 feet and threw the bat away like Manny does after some of his HR's. As if t osay, "I don't need that piece of junk anymore!". I guess he is saving his swing because he is not going to use up his final 3 outs in this round.

Final round

Sosa vs. Giambi

Giambi to bat first. The fan assigned to Giambi looks like the man-woman from the last Survivor. Remember her? Zoe was her name. Anyway, she was possibly the ugliest and most annoying Survivor contestant ever. And this woman looks like her. All the more reason to vote against Giambi.

3 Hr’s and 3 outs for Jason. Jason really is a sellout, now that I think about it. He changed his whole image to become a Yankee. What happened to his signature goatee? His long hair? All of it gone for Steinbrenner and his stupid rules.

6HR’s – 6 outs. Wouldn’t it be great to see Giambi twist an ankle during the contest and have to sit out the entire 2nd half of the season?

Giambi finishes with 7 HR’s. Does Sammy have it in him? Did he save enough? How many 500 foot bombs can one man hit?

(By the way, I am completely neutral. I couldn’t care less who wins)

Sammy comes up to bat but seems nervous. Not a good sign. Ground out-fly out. He looks tired. Up to 4 outs now. Maybe he’s saving it.

Giambi is being interviewed and keeps calling Sammy a ‘Manimal’. Everything about Giambi is annoying. Plus, the only Manimal I’ve seen tonight is that girl he’s trying to win the house for.

Sammy just switched bats with 6 outs and 0 HR’s. Maybe this will be the difference maker. YES!! He hits his first as the music from ‘The Natural’ plays in the background. C'mon Sammy!! Send the Yankee home a loser!!!

Uh Oh… 8 outs. The goofball from Londonderry looks nervous.

Well it’s over. Giambi wins. Just what the Yankee organization needs. To win something else. The ‘real manimal’ won the house too, just to make things worse. She just thanked God for the opportunity to be there. I guess that’s a sports thing. If you are a sports player or around sports players, you have to thank God for winning. As if He doesn’t have bigger concerns.

All in all, a decent night. Would have been better if the Yankee had lost. But there’s still hope. Maybe Giambi will twist that ankle tonight.

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