We’ve been reading your emails, baseball fans. You’ve felt neglected during the NBA and NHL playoffs, but that changes today. It’s an all-baseball letter for the All-Star break. And we begin with Polar Bear Pete and a home run derby for the ages.
Re-Pete! Alonso Dominates HR Derby, Again
Mets’ Pete Alonso Makes History With Back-to-Back Home Run Derby Titles
It’s Pete Alonso’s world and we’re just living in it. On a night when baseball’s summer smash party took center stage, no one would upstage the reigning Home Run Derby champion from the New York Mets. Polar Bear Pete was in a groove from the get-go, dancing to music at the plate and crushing nearly 70 percent of his pitches over the wall. Once again, the youngster on a $660,000 salary just won $1 million in a one-night slugfest.
Fun Fact: Pete Alonso has made more money in two Home Run Derby wins ($2 million) than his first two and a half seasons playing for the Mets ($1.47 million).
HR Derby: Round-by-Round Breakdown
The 2021 Home Run Derby brought eight players to the plate for a single-elimination-style tournament, and every lower seed was victorious in the first round. (1) Shohei Ohtani was outgunned by (8) Juan Soto in a double-overtime swing-off (31-28), (7) Trevor Story outpaced (2) Joey Gallo (20-19), (6) Trey Mancini edged out (3) Matt Olson (24-23), and (5) Alonso broke the first-round record with 35 home runs to take down (4) Salvador Perez. Perez tallied the second-most homers in Round 1 (28), but he was no match for the Polar Bear.
2nd Round & The Finals
After Alonso swiftly ended Soto’s night in Round 2 (16-15 with time on the clock), he faced Orioles’ Trey Mancini in the finale. Mancini put up 22 homers, which looked good enough to challenge Alonso, but the night still belonged to one man. Pete put up 17 HRs in regulation while earning a minute of bonus time. After stepping back to the plate, he blasted six straight pitches for 17 through 23 to end it with oodles of time remaining.
Since the Home Run Derby’s inception in 1985, only two other players have won back-to-back titles; Ken Griffey Jr. (1998-99) and Yoenis Cespedes (2013-14). Griffey Jr. also won it in 1994, making him the only three-time winner of the event. Alonso plans on going for the three-peat next season.
The 500-Foot Club
By night’s end, five dingers went 500-plus feet, including two from Alonso. Ohtani (513) and Story (518) hit massive blasts in the early rounds while Juan Soto (520) hit the longest homer ever recorded in derby history.
The 2021 MLB All-Star Game Primer
National League vs. American League: Tonight (8:00 pm ET, FOX)
It’s the big one! The Midsummer Classic starts swinging tonight as baseball’s biggest stars hit Coors Field in Denver for the 2021 MLB All-Star Game. It’s fanfare at its finest, with the winning side taking home bragging rights and bonuses. The American League holds a slight advantage throughout history (45-43-2), but the AL has won the last seven All-Star games dating back to 2013. It’s Shohei Ohtani leading off and starting on the mound for the AL, but Max Scherzer and a more experienced NL lineup could end the drought. Play ball!
All-Star Starting Lineups
1. DH Shohei Ohtani (Angels)
2. 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays)
3. SS Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox)
4. RF Aaron Judge (Yankees)
5. 3B Rafael Devers (Red Sox)
6. 2B Marcus Semien (Blue Jays)
7. C Salvador Perez (Royals)
8. LF Teoscar Hernandez (Blue Jays)
9. CF Cedric Mullins (Orioles)
Starting Pitcher: Shohei Ohtani (Angels)
Manager: Kevin Cash (Rays)
1. SS Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres)
2. DH Max Muncy (Dodgers)
3. 3B Nolan Arenado (Cardinals)
4. 1B Freddie Freeman (Braves)
5. RF Nick Castellanos (Reds)
6. LF Jesse Winker (Reds)
7. C J.T. Realmuto (Phillies)
8. CF Bryan Reynolds (Pirates)
9. 2B Adam Frazier (Pirates)
Starting Pitcher: Max Scherzer (Nationals)
Manager: Dave Roberts (Dodgers)
*Mike Trout (Angels), Ronald Acuna Jr. (Braves) and Buster Posey (Giants) were elected starters who will sit out the All-Star Game with injuries.
MLB: Get to Know the 2021 MLB All-Stars (Music Video)
MLB All-Star Break Standings
Analyzing the MLB Standings, Power Rankings & Playoff Picture at the All-Star Break
The All-Star break’s arrival means the first half of the season is in the books. We’ve watched surprise teams rise and fall throughout April, May and June, but now comes the real test. Last year’s 16-team postseason was wild, but the format returns to a traditional 10-team playoff this season. The top five teams from the American League and National League will make the postseason (divisional winners plus two wild cards). If the playoffs started today, the field would include: Red Sox, Astros, White Sox, Rays and Athletics (AL) / Giants, Brewers, Mets, Dodgers and Padres (NL). Here’s where they stand after roughly 90 games.
Red Sox (55-36)*
Blue Jays (45-42)
White Sox (54-35)*
*Denotes Teams in Current Playoff Picture
MLB Draft Tracker
Recapping the Top Picks in the 2021 MLB Draft
The 2021 MLB Draft kicked off on Sunday with the Pittsburgh Pirates selecting catcher Henry Davis (Louisville) at No. 1 overall. The pick was somewhat of a surprise, but the Bucs filled a void behind the plate to start the draft marathon. Vanderbilt pitching stars Jack Leiter (2nd, Rangers) and Kumar Rocker (10th, Mets) were big-name steals early on. Here are the Top-10 picks and a link to the full list of selections thus far:
MLB Draft (Top-10)
1. Pirates: C Henry Davis (Louisville)
2. Rangers: P Jack Leiter (Vanderbilt)
3. Tigers: P Jackson Jobe (Heritage Hall School)
4. Red Sox: SS Marcelo Mayer (Eastlake HS)
5. Orioles: OF Colton Cowser (Sam Houston)
6. Diamondbacks: SS Jordan Lawlar (Jesuit College Prep)
7. Royals: P Frank Mozzicato (East Catholic HS)
8. Rockies: OF Benny Montgomery (Red Land HS)
9. Angels: P Sam Bachman (Miami University)
10. Mets: P Kumar Rocker (Vanderbilt)
CBS Sports: MLB Draft First-Round Takeaways
After decades of dominating international competition, Team USA lost its second straight exhibition game on Monday night to Australia (91-83). The Americans fell to Nigeria on Saturday (90-87), marking the first pair back-to-back exhibition losses since pro players were allowed to participate. Damian Lillard (22) and Kevin Durant (17) led Team USA, but Patty Mills (22) and Joe Ingles (17) carried the Aussies to victory without Ben Simmons.
The Open Championship returns to the schedule this week after it was cancelled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. Open champion Jon Rahm is listed as the favorite to come home with the Claret Jug. (Bleacher Report)
And so are the Bucks’ chances. After happily sending Antetokounmpo to the line in the first two games, the Suns winced at all the whistles in Game 3, as the two-time MVP regained his shooting form and reminded Phoenix of his generational talent. (The Ringer)
It’s rarer than you think. Novak Djokovic has claimed this year’s Australian and French Opens and Wimbledon. Only the U.S. Open is left to be won. But no man has achieved a calendar Grand Slam since 1969, and no woman since 1988. (NY Times)