Soto Doesn’t Turn Down Home Run Crown: Nationals’ slugger wins Derby over impressive Rodriguez

Winner of the 2022 Home Run Derby before the All Star Game at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles the Washington Nationals Juan Soto is shown taking a hack during the contest on Mon Jul 18, 2022 (AP News photo)

By Morris Phillips

LOS ANGELES–These days with baseball sluggers more capable, and itching to show their wares, you’ve got to do a little more to win the T-Mobile Home Run Derby.

Just ask Julio Rodriguez. The Mariners’ 21-year old, breakout star hit 81 homers, knocked off the two-time defending champion Pete Alonso, and still came up short–by one home run–as Washington’s Juan Soto captured the title at Dodger Stadium on Monday night.

The 23-year old Soto vowed he would win it, but he would have been surprised to know that he would have to get past fellow Dominicans Rodriguez and Albert Pujols to do it. Both Rodriguez and Pujols were surprise advancers as sluggers Kyle Schwarber and Corey Seager both took early exits.

Rodriguez started the competition with 32 homers against Seager, as he took advantage of not only his power but the positioning of the sun and shadows to start the event. He then came back and eliminated Alonso with 31 homers, as the defending champ could never seem to string together big flies and gather momentum. Alonso was eliminated with just 23 homers despite earning the full minute of bonus slugging.

Meanwhile, Soto gained momentum as the event progressed, first knocking off the Guardians’ Jose Ramirez, then taking down Pujols, who was the surprise, first round winner over Schwarber. By the third round, and Soto’s third as the finishing competitor already knowing what his opponent had done. Against Rodriguez, Soto patiently pursued the younger sluggers’ 18 blasts, and then made up the final four home runs needed in his bonus minute.

“It feels amazing. It feels tiring. I just tried to concentrate to square off the balls because I know I have the power,” Soto said.

Speculation is that Soto will be traded after turning down the Nationals’ offer of $440 million dollars over 13 seasons. That move, which will likely involve a bid or inquiry from the Giants, could happen in the coming weeks.

“Right now I’m not even thinking about it. I’m a champion, and I will be a champion for the Nationals,” he said.

That’s Amaury News and Commentary podcast: A’s Blackburn says he’s a loss for words on All Star selection; Met’s Alonso says he’s the best hitter on the planet for home run derby; plus more

Oakland A’s starter Paul Blackburn is jubilant in this Apr 27, 2022 game against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park in San Francisco. Blackburn who started in this 1-0 shutout had five relievers follow him to keep the shutout going. Blackburn will be the A’s lone representative for the mid summer classic this year at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles on Tue Jul 19, 2022. ( file photo)

On That’s Amaury News and Commentary podcast:

#1 The Oakland A’s lone representative pitcher Paul Blackburn is honored to be representing the A’s for the 2022 All Star Game in Los Angeles on July 19th. Blackburn said that he was a loss for words upon learning last Sunday he would get the honor.

#2 Blackburn 28 was 6-2 and currently is 6-4 has pitched in a number of games where he’s gone seven innings or more but in some of his loses he didn’t get much run support and got the loss.

#3 Amaury, Blackburn mentioned that he’s really looking forward to seeing and talking with Los Angeles Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani and other American League players. For Blackburn it’s an experience he soon won’t forget.

#4 The home run derby is one of the most anticipated events at the All Star Game and all attention most likely will be on the New York Mets Pete Alonso who won two home run derbies and winning the $1 million prize each time.

#5 Alonso didn’t hold back after winning in the 2021 All Star Game’s home run derby in Denver last season saying that he’s the best power hitter on the planet.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the lead Spanish play by play announcer for the Oakland A’s on flagship station Le Grande 1010 KIQI San Francisco and does News and Commentary at

Super Slugger: Mets’ Alonso wins the Home Run Derby again while outshining the star-studded competition

By Morris Phillips

DENVER–The greatest Home Run Derby ever? This one had all the elements.

Powerful hitters? Start with Pete Alonso, the defending champion with the tree trunk lower base and Popeye forearms. His first round of the night just turned out to be the biggest round ever with 35 home runs hit.

Exhausted hitters? For Sho… Shohei Ohtani looked gassed one minute into his first round, no doubt due to all the buildup surrounding his record-breaking exploits, not to mention having to be the last of the eight participants to hit. Ohtani was bested Juan Soto in round one, but that just means he’ll be better prepared for tomorrow’s starting pitching assignment and his spot leading off in the American League batting order. And no Ohtani didn’t flame out, he finished with a bang, pumping out 28 homers in his round, most of those in the final minute.

Hitters with amazing stories? Trey Mancini didn’t even play in the major leagues in 2020. Instead, the 27-year old successfully battled colon cancer and returned to action this season. His inclusion in the Derby was supposed to be a feel good story, but his first round elimination of Oakland’s Matt Olson was all in the swing. Mancini sent balls all over the yard, winning the duel 24-23. And the Orioles’ slugger followed that up by ousting hometown favorite Trevor Story, 13-12 proving that it’s always better to go last and not hit even one more home run than necessary to advance.

Of course, the setting of the contest–Coors Field in Denver–had a major impact on the quality of the contest. From the mile high locale to the baseballs not being run through the well-known humidor, the stage was set for a record-breaking event. The Rockpile beware! Here come the bombs!

The longest HR of the evening? Only by a couple of feet, that distinction went to Washington’s Juan Soto, whose longest blast traveled 520 feet. Ohtani and Alonso put themselves in this competition with shots that each traveled 513 feet. Soto’s homer reached the second deck in right center and was greeted by a section of wildly delighted–and disbelieving–fans.

Hey don’t forget about me! I’m exhausted too! Mets bench coach Dave Jauss, 64-years old and high-minded courtesy of his Amherst education, pitched gopher balls to Alonso through three rounds, and based on the prodigious totals, did an incredible job. Jauss is the son of Bill Jauss, the well-known sportswriter for the Chicago Tribune. He’s also an older, but successful, parent: his son, D.J. was drafted in the MLB Draft in 2014.

And the winner? Alonso made it back-to-back titles hitting 23 homers in the final round to best Mancini. Alonso thoroughly enjoyed the moment, spinning his gaudy Derby Champ necklace presented by Ken Griffey Jr. and pounding his chest until he was heartily greeted by Mancini. Alonso became only the fourth contestant to win the Derby twice. Yoenis Cespedes was the last to win back-to-back in 2015.

Alonso’s Derby Debut a Dandy: Mets slugger outlasts Vlad Jr. in epic Home Run Derby

By Morris Phillips

CLEVELAND — Imagine a village of Paul Bunyans, each man equipped with tree trunk legs, bulging biceps and granite necks.

Yes, in that environment, Mets rookie Pete Alonso might not stand out.

But in home run derby featuring mere mortal, major league sluggers doing their thing in the presence of a jacked up, sold out crowd at Progressive Field on Monday, Alonso stood out in a major way, by methodically and decisively taking control of the T Mobile Home Run Derby one blast at a time.

“You’ve got to go in with kind of a killer instinct. It doesn’t matter how many you hit, you just need to have one more than the guy you’re at,” Alonso said.

Alonso’s focused approach was a necessity in the presence of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. who thrilled the Cleveland fans with 91 total home runs–34 more than Alonso hit–a feat so prodigious and taxing, that 20-year old had little left in the contest’s last minute, falling one homer short of matching Alonso in the final round.

Both the 24-year old Alonso and Guerrero earned more than they will make as rookies this season for the Mets and Blue Jays with Alonso capturing the $1 million first place prize.

Not only did Guerrero equal his salary by capturing the second place prize money of approximately $500,000, he validated the contest’s selection process that tabbed him despite the fact he’s homered just eight times in first 61 major league games.

Guerrero decimated Oakland’s Matt Chapman 29-13 in the first round before outlasting the Dodgers’ Joc Pederson in an epic second round, 40-39. His battle with Pederson required two swingoffs to break ties and separate the sluggers.

At one point in his battle with Pederson, Guerrero homered 19 times in 25 swings. The feat was reminiscent of Josh Hamilton’s epic derby at Boston’s Fenway Park in which he homered 28 times in a span of 38 pitches. In both cases, the crowds howled with appreciation.

But in the end, Guerrero didn’t have enough to outlast Alonso.

“I’m happy I didn’t face him in the early rounds because he would’ve knocked me out,” Alonso said of Guerrero. “I gotta tip my cap. He’s a hell of a hitter, and he’s gonna have a really long career.”

“I got tired, but that’s not why I lost. There are no excuses,” Guerrero conceded. “He hit more home runs than me and he won.”

While Guerrero peppered the left field stands with his home runs, Alonso with his powerful base, sprayed homers from foul line to foul line. Alonso also maintained a relaxed motion, rarely repositioning his feet between swings, and as much as could, conserving energy.

In the end, it was the exact approach he needed to get past hometown slugger Carlos Santana in the opening round, and Ronald Acuna Jr. in the semis.

“I’m happy that I was able to conserve as much energy throughout the event, and that was huge,” Alonso said.