Post links you come across that I have missed in the comments section so everyone can read them. Then, come back during the day to see what others have added.
Today's box score features several links about today's Home Run Derby. Say what you will about the spectacle, there isn't one among you who didn't appreciate the fireworks show Josh Hamilton put on last year. You can catch the show live on ESPN and mlb.com at 8PM ET.
We've all heard it before: participating in the Home Run Derby can "ruin" a player's swing. In 2005, Bobby Abreu hit a record 41 home runs in the derby, but hit just six after the AS break (versus 18 before). But is the effect persistent, or can we attribute it simply to luck? Derek Carty at THT says there is no discernible effect whatsoever:
Nope, doesn't seem to be the case. No matter how long a hitter lasts or how many home runs he hits, we still don't see any signs of a second-half decline.
Oh, sure, if you look at the "data." But I still say Albert Pujols tanks in the second half.
We all know that the All-Star Game counts, so how does an enterprising sort of person get some skin in the Home Run Derby? By laying odds, of course. Vegas Watch has the line with a bit of commentary. You can find up-to-the-minute odds over at The Greek. I don't endorse betting, but I think some people who take the odds on Nelson Cruz (currently +600) might be pleasantly surprised.
It is about as difficult as it is trivial to try to predict the outcome of the home run derby, but that didn't stop Bill Baer from giving it a go. He takes the safe road, Pujols over Howard (yawn), but also offers some bonus predictions:
Number of "Gold ball" home runs hit by all players in all rounds combined: 14
Number of "Hit it here" signs tagged: 1
Number of "the Derby ruined his swing" articles written about Derby contestants’ second-half struggles: 1,138
I'll take the over on that last one.
Speaking of predictions, is it possible that Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik is a savant? That's what Pro Ball NW (formerly Bleeding Blue and Teal) says:
Franklin Gutierrez, Russell Branyan and David Aardsma were all picked up on the cheap and have gone on to have breakout years beyond all expectations. That is pretty good, but those aren’t the only breakouts he predicted.
Edwin Jackson was almost a Mariner over the offseason before a three team deal between the Tigers and Rays fell apart, and all he’s done is finally live up to all the lofty expectations placed on him 5+ years ago.
He also cites a rumor that Zduriencik was close to obtaining Rays SS Ben Zobrist this offseason. What does he know about Jack Hannahan that I don't?
Last night's showdown between the Cubs and Cardinals was a great divisional battle, and it was made even better by the matching of wits between Lou Piniella and Tony La Russa. You knew there would be pitching changes and pinch hitters, but did you know that Sean Marshall would play left field? It was an old trick used well, but when Marshall tried to warm up after returning to the mound (after one batter), La Russa objected. Of course, while La Russa was arguing (he eventually prevailed on the umpire), Marshall was (you guessed it!) warming up. As Craig Calcaterra put it:
[T]he opposing manager was Tony La Russa, who has never met a double switch, weird strategy, or pitching change he doesn't like, and Piniella simply decided to show him that he cannot be out-crazied, even by Genius La Russa.
I sure hope you didn't miss the rousing game thread we had going.
Finally, if you want to play along with the Home Run Derby, who better than the blog of the very same name (whoa, I just got that) to help you out? You've got 'til 5PM ET to submit your entries and get a chance at the $250 grand prize. Of course, if you're interested in riches of another sort, they've also got a beverage consuming game you can play along with. Enjoy!