The inaugural Home Run Derby X took place in London this afternoon. I had seen some vague references to it over the past week, though nothing that caught my attention to the point of thinking that I needed or wanted to watch it. However, as I sat in my living room hiding from the heat wave that has been pummeling the Midwest for far longer than should be necessary, I stumbled upon the final of the Home Run Derby X streaming on YouTube.
I figured, what the hell, why not put it on? I let the stream run and took a moment every now and then to pause my activities to see what was going on.
Honestly? It was weird. The final of the competition featured the “Yankees” vs. the “Red Sox” (go figure). Representing the MLB for the Red Sox was Jonny Gomes. On the Yankees side, the MLB rep was Nick Swisher. From what I’ve been able to find, every team in the tournament features an individual from four different backgrounds:
- MLB legend (in this case, Gomes and Swisher)
- Superstar: Players who hail from the world of softball and women’s baseball.
- Rookie: Players from the men’s baseball development system
- Wild Card: “Influential content creators.”
I never managed to get a full handle on the rules, but based on what I was able to gather, teams can earn points not just for home runs, but also for defensive plays. Bonus points could be earned for hitting a particular target or by hitting a home run with an orange baseball. In general, the whole event felt more like a giant arcade game featuring real people, rather than an MLB event. And, in keeping with the stereotypes, the Yankees won the competition.
I won’t say that I hated it. Maybe if I had taken the time to really watch it and get an understanding of the rules and the scoring, it might have captured my interest better. I will say that I am thrilled that the event also features female athletes, because girls can play ball, too. It just seemed like a strange way to try to promote Major League Baseball in other countries.
Speaking of other countries, today’s exhibition apparently is not the only instance of the Home Run Derby X to take place this year. Upcoming competitions will take place on September 17th in Seoul, South Korea and on October 15th in Mexico City.
If you’re interested, you can watch the stream from today’s final in London below: