Do you know who won the 1987 Home Run Derby? How about the 2007 derby? Or even the 2015 derby? I ask this to prove a point. The derby is fun, it’s one of my favorite events of the year, but aside from a few memorable ones, we tend to forget who won each derby. After it ends, we simply don’t talk about it anymore. But you know what we do talk about? Records.
Julio did not win the 2023 T-Mobile Home Run Derby. I don’t care who did. Instead, he did something that we’re going to talk about for longer. Far longer I would guess. He set the record for the most home runs in a single round. 41 baseballs were given a long ride over the wall in just 4 minutes, something that no one else has ever done.
And he did it for us. In front of us. The the house that we all share. And he did it by protecting our old hero from a vicious beast. By turning his bat into Excalibur, Julio became our knight.
As I’m sure is not news to you, dear reader, Ken Griffey Jr. has won the Home Run Derby more than anyone else, with victories in 1994, 1998, and 1999. Yet several players have won twice, including Pete Alonso, a seemingly permanent fixture of the modern derby. Alonso loves the derby. You can just tell how much he wants to become the first four time winner. Of course, to do that he would have to first become a three time winner. And in this, for this year at least, he failed. Allow me to regale to you the tale.
Twice now the polar bear has come after our old hero, and this time he dared to do so in our own castle, on our own ground. And yet he was met at the gate. Met by the same knight who defeated him last time, and in doing so introduced himself to all of the realm. The cityfolk watched on as the young night faced off against the powerful beast. And they watched in glee.
The knight danced around the behemoth, cutting and stabbing and slashing. A full one and forty wounds he gave to the white bear. The beast, beset and fatigued could not keep up with the spry knight’s assault. The foul creature exerted all of its strength, but wasted it either too high, too low, or missing left and right. He only managed half as many hits as the defender of Seattle. Soon, the bear could stand no more, and fled from the city as fast as he could. The cityfolk erupted into cheer and song.
Yet their knight could not rise. He had worn himself out defeating the bear that he could barely lift his sword. And there were more would-be conquerors approaching. Another knight, this one from the north, stepped in. The Seattle knight put up a token defense, but was bested with nary more than a flick of the wrist. He was defeated. But it did not truly matter.
For, with the defeat of the polar bear, the crown of the old hero was well and truly safe. Now needed not be a time of battle, but instead a time of tournament and merriment. And instead of conquerors, the other knights became friends and competitors. The city opened its gates and its hearts to the knights of the other realms. And in doing so celebrated knighthood itself. And that is something more to remember.