Last night was the MLB Home Run Derby, a tradition that takes place yearly before the All-Star Game. The Derby is announced by Chris Berman, who tends to go way overboard with his home run calls for each and every shot. I diligently watched the Derby last night, and tracked Berman's homer calls. The results were disappointing.
I counted 66 instances of Berman saying the word "back" which includes each instance of the word said during his calls. This seems very low from pre-event estimates. My initial prediction was somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 backs, which we fell way short of. It's worth noting that The Victory Formation counted 64 backs from Berman, so it's good that we're both in the same neighborhood.
The most frequent target of Berman's calls was Jose Bautista, who got 16 in his first round performance, four in the second round, and five in the final round for a total of 25 backs. Eventual winner Prince Fielder only had a total of 13 backs. It seemed like ESPN was trying to distract viewers from the event taking place, because they had numerous players being interviewed at various times during the Derby, taking attention away from the on-field exploits of the players and moving it towards their guests. That definitely brought the total number of backs down.
One of those guests at the broadcast position was George Brett, who presented John Kruk with a plate of ribs which he devoured in the middle of the live broadcast. Brett was a riot while announcing, getting smarmy towards Berman and correcting him on one of his city calls (Omaha, which Brett said was the other direction from where the ball traveled). Berman also got in nods to Independence and Wichita, while early favorites Branson and Topeka were left out in the cold. As for Berman's pun-laced nicknames, there was only one that I caught: George "Taco" Bell, which came in the first ten minutes ot the Derby. That was evidently enough awful nicknames for the entire broadcast.
This was an absolutely surreal event to be watching live. Watching it for the purpose of this post at AA, I was focused less on the dingers being hit, and more on the ridiculousness coming from the announcers. This year's Home Run Derby was pretty much a three hour reason for why this site was created, and I really hope ESPN doesn't change this ridiculous formula in the coming years. A Derby without Berman would just seem wrong.
For those of you that were wondering, Pedro Gomez was the 2nd Field Level reporter for the Futures Game on ESPN2 on Sunday Afternoon, Nomar Garciaparra was the 2nd analyst for the Home Run Derby, Buster Olney and Pedro Gomez were both Field level reporters for the Home Run Derby on ESPN, Paul Severino, Jonathan Mayo and Sam Ryan was the Field Level reporter for the Triple A All-star game on MLB Network last night and Peter Pascerelli was the Field level reporter instead of both Peter Pascerelli and John Rooney for the Home Run Derby on ESPN Radio this year!