The St. Louis crowd loves Ryan Howard. But when Albert Pujols made his entrance, the fans officially went nuts. Both sluggers were favorites to win the 2009 Home Run Derby; Pujols playing for the Cardinals and Howard, a St. Louis native, both had a lot of support going into the contest.
The first round results, which put Pujols into a swing-off with Joe Mauer and Carlos Pena, ended with both Pujols and Howard making the second round along with Prince Fielder and Nelson Cruz. Pujols ended round #2 with 11 total homers and Howard wound up hitting 15. Cruz stepped in for his turn and out-did Howard by just one home run for 16 total. Howard’s last hope was that Fielder, the final batter in round 2, would not surpass his 15 homers. Sadly for Phillies fans, Fielder wound up hitting 17, knocking Howard out of the contest. Ryan seemed relieved though, as exhaustion set in and he was likely happy to be done.
It was a nice effort all around, although not as exciting as last year’s derby where Josh Hamilton put on a show that will probably never been repeated. Hamilton hit 28 homers in the first round, many of which disappeared from sight in old Yankee Stadium. Although he went on to take 2nd place to Justin Morneau, those of us who witnessed the amazing display of power and grace will not soon forget it. I had a feeling this year’s derby would pale in comparison, but how could it not?
But the derby is always an entertaining event that I look forward to seeing every year. And the 2009 champion is Prince Fielder, who hit 6 in the final round to Cruz’s 5. Congrats to Fielder!
Tune in for the All-Star Game tomorrow night at 8pm on FOX. Tim Lincecum will start for the NL and Roy Halladay for the AL. As for your Phillies, Chase Utley gets the start at 2nd, Raul Ibanez in left and Shane Victorino in center. Howard and Jayson Werth will be available on the bench.
My predictions for the game are as follows:
– The NL will finally break the curse of 11 straight AL wins (plus 1 tie) and win the game!
– Chase Utley will look FABULOUS, even if he strikes out multiple time. I guarantee it.
– Tim Lincecum will be asked by at least 15 fans if he is the teenage son of one of the other players.
– St. Louis fans will chant “RAUUUUUUL!” even if they do not know why they are doing it.
– The broadcasters for FOX will screw up simple facts at an approximate rate of 2.3 times per inning.
– The FOX broadcast will also be boring, redundant and completely void of any redeeming value…sorry to have to break it to you. But, enjoy the game…with the volume turned down :O)
Photos by Jenn