It’s the middle of July, so let the 2014 All-Star Game and its festivities commence.
The NL captain for the 2014 MLB Home Run Derby, Troy Tulowitzki, knew how much it meant for teammate Justin Morneau to return to Minneapolis, the place where his big league journey began over a decade ago in 2003. AL captain Jose Bautista did what he could to please the hometown crowd as well, inviting present Minnesota Twins 2B Brian Dozier to partake in the event. Though both 2014 Home Run Derby captains had the right intentions, it was not meant to be on this night.
Colorado Rockies 1B Morneau spent the better part of 11 seasons playing for the Twins. He received a standing ovation upon being introduced on Monday night, as his efforts in Minnesota spawned four consecutive All-Star appearances that succeeded an AL MVP in 2006. The 33-year old Canadian gave some of his best years to the Twins, including when he represented them in 2008, winning the Home Run Derby at the old Yankee Stadium, its final year in existence. After the legendary Harmon Killebrew (559), Kent Hrbek (293) and Bob Allison (256), no one has hit more HRs in a Twins jersey than Morneau, who had 221.
Dozier is one of the more exciting up-and-coming infielders in the game of baseball today. At 27, he broke onto the scene in 2013 for the Twins with 18 HRs and 14 RBI, flirting with 20-20. Now, at the halfway mark of 2014, he already has just as many HRs as he did last season, and has eclipsed his SB totals from last year with 16. He flirted with 20-20 last year, but this year, 30-30 seems kind of realistic.
Though both Morneau and Dozier were not named to a roster for the 2014 All-Star Game, it was nice of the Derby captains to give hope to the potential storyline of a crowd favorite socking more dingers than anyone else, and being crowned a champion.
Dozier hit two with the new format of only being provided with seven outs. Morneau advanced to a swing off with the Cincinnati Reds‘ Todd Frazier, but ended up being contained by the fence at Target Field, and was not able to advance. Though he and Dozier probably did not do as well as they would have liked, it was surely a memory the pair won’t forget any time soon. The Twins of the past and present were represented tonight in this classic event, and for as mediocre as they did, polarizing Cuban superstar Yasiel Puig failed to go yard a single time in the event.
When all was said and done, defending Home Run Derby champ Yoenis Cespedes managed to maintain the crown. It was an entertaining showing from some of MLB’s biggest bats, but it certainly had its fair share of disappointments as well.