Home Run Derby Did More For Baseball In 3 Hours Than The Last 3 Years Did

by Adam Silvers

With the 159th blast of the 2015 Home Run Derby, Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier brought down the house and accomplished something that hasn't been done in 25 years.

Indeed, by the time Frazier cranked the Derby-winning homer at the start of his 30-second bonus time, the night was already a massive success.

After two years of tinkering following a decade of stagnation, Major League Baseball may finally have their Home Run Derby format for the foreseeable future.

Last night's competition consisted of eight players, seeded one through eight based on their 2015 home run totals for the first half of the season.

And just like most other playoffs, the one-seed faced the eight-seed, the two-seed faced the seven-seed, and so on and so forth.

In each head-to-head round, the lower seed batted second.

Basically, it was a bracket-style elimination competition, which created intrigue, narrative and a whole hell of a lot of long balls.

Fill out the #HRDerby bracket on the @dkplaybook for your shot to win a DraftKings ticket! — DraftKings (@DraftKings) July 13, 2015

Another major caveat to last night's Derby was the inception of a timer.

With each participant's round determined by a four-minute clock -- it was originally five, but MLB moved to four based on weather concerns -- rather than the number of "outs" they received, hitters could no longer take as many pitches as they wanted.

As part of the new rules, pitchers couldn't throw until the previous hit landed, home run or not, and batters were allowed one timeout during the four-minute period. The new "bonus round" provided another added dimension of excitement.

The new rules are great, but it was the participants, the fans and the appearance of a few Cincinnati Reds legends that did more for baseball in three hours than what's been done in the last three years.

Despite his controversial past, long-time Cincinnati Reds great Pete Rose joined the FOX crew to kick off the festivities.

Cannot wait to be on tv with these guys. @PeteRose_14 with his game face, @TheBigHurt_35 top of the hour @FOXSports1 — Kevin Burkhardt (@kevinburkhardt) July 13, 2015

And another former Reds great, Sean Casey, made one of the plays of the day in deep left field.

Texas Ranger Prince Fielder got knocked out in the first round, but he still managed to snag some cotton candy from his son.

Prince Fielder eating cotton candy is my spirit animal #HRDerby — Elizabeth Baugh (@elizabeth_baugh) July 14, 2015

And speaking of fathers, Kris Bryant had to remind his dad there was still a bonus round to play.

"Dad? Daaaad? DAD!" - @KrisBryant_23. #HRDerby — MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) July 14, 2015

One of the best stories of the night was 35-year-old Albert Pujols, who hasn't attended All-Star festivities in five years.

Pujols with the buzzer-beating walkoff! #HRDerby — Ryan Krasnoo (@RyanKras) July 14, 2015

But a better story is his relationship with Joc Pederson's brother, Champ, who has Down syndrome.

All the feels. #HRDerby — MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) July 14, 2015

And to think:

12 years ago, Albert Pujols was in the 2003 MLB All-Star Game. 12 years ago, Joc Pederson was in the 5th grade. #HRDerby — Ryan Krasnoo (@RyanKras) July 14, 2015

Of course, this is still about the homers, right?

I believe I can fly. #HRDerby — MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) July 14, 2015

Pujols hit a few that looked destined for Mars.

The @HeadShoulders #FlakeFreeZone was absolutely peppered with HRs tonight. #HRDerby — MLB (@MLB) July 14, 2015

And so did Cubs rookie Kris Bryant.

Uppercuts right into the @HeadShoulders #FlakeFreeZone. #HRDerby — MLB (@MLB) July 14, 2015

Prince Fielder and Josh Donaldson didn't make the finals, but they still put on a show.

465 feet, 474 and 460. The ball is FLYING in Cincy. @Gillette #MaxContact — MLB (@MLB) July 14, 2015

Just like the Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado.

Balls just going into the @HeadShoulders #FlakeFreeZone over, and over, and over, and over again. #HRDerby — MLB (@MLB) July 14, 2015

The Dodgers' 23-year-old Joc Pederson cruised into the finals on the heels of a 487-foot golf shot.

469 feet, 468 feet, and the leader of the clubhouse ... 487!! @Gillette #MaxContact — MLB (@MLB) July 14, 2015

But in the end, hometown hero Todd Frazier became the first player since Ryne Sandberg in 1990 to win the Home Run Derby in his home ballpark.

#THIS. Hometown hero wins #HRDerby. — MLB (@MLB) July 14, 2015

ESPN's Darren Rovell was concerned Frazier wouldn't get the trophy he deserved.

One thing the Triple A Home Run Derby does better than the majors: Gives its winner a championship belt! — Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) July 13, 2015

But in his own castle, you know the Home Run Derby king reigns supreme.

Citations: HR Derby fun: Ex-Tiger Sean Casey makes a great catch (Detroit Free Press), Home Run Derby Five-Minute Guide: Everything you need to know (Sports Illustrated)