As the MLB All-Star Game gets ready to kick off tonight in our nation’s capital, there was some controversy over Monday’s Home Run Derby that got a rise out of Chicago Cubs fans on social media.
Two Cubs players participated in the derby, shortstop Javier Baez and outfielder Kyle Schwarber. The derby took place in a bracket style, with Baez as a six seed and Schwarber as a five seed. While Baez was eliminated in the first round by Dodgers infielder Max Muncy, Schwarber battled his way all the way to the finals. On his way there, Schwarber put on a great performance, hitting 21 dingers in the semifinals against Phillies first basement Rhys Hoskins, who hit 20 homers before Schwarber came to the plate. The format of the derby is a timed competition, so players batting second in close battles try to beat the clock to surpass their opponent. Schwarber did just that against Hoskins, launching a blast to right field as time expired to break a 20-20 tie. It was time for the final round, Schwarber versus hometown hero Bryce Harper, outfielder for the Washington Nationals. It was also time for some Cubs fans to overreact.
Schwarber batted first against Harper, starting out with a bang by blasting a homer over 450 feet on the first pitch he saw. He continued his strong showing on the night, ending with 17 home runs in regulation time. Players in the derby were awarded a 30 second bonus period if they hit two homers over 440 feet. Schwarber had seven homers over that distance in the final round, but could only tack on one more homer before his bonus time expired, leaving his total in the final at 18 home runs. Harper came up next and started slow. He only hit four homers in the first minute-plus, so he called a timeout to regroup. With 50 seconds remaining, Harper had nine homers. He seemingly flipped a switch and blasted nine big flies in that time to tie the score. With the bonus 30 seconds easily in the bag for Harper, he took one swing in the overtime period and flipped his America-themed bat as the victor.
Harper seemed to be a man possessed in the final minute. Some fans noticed that he was readying up and swinging for the fences before his previous homer had even landed, racing to match Schwarber’s total. Apparently there’s a rule that the batter must wait for the previous home run to land before taking another pitch. There’s an official rules page for the Home Run Derby on MLB’s website, but it doesn’t mention the rule. Cubs fans raced to Twitter to proclaim that Schwarber was robbed. One even started a change.org petition to change the results of the derby.
My absolute favorite thing in the world right now is Cubs fan home run derby truthers who believe the Harpers were cheating pic.twitter.com/F7QEvPt5pj
— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) July 17, 2018
I believe some of the Cubs fans on Twitter were just having a bit of fun and overreacting. Some seemed serious though. Honestly, we as Cubs fans should let the hometown guy have his moment. The Home Run Derby is just supposed to be a fun prelude to the All-Star Game where players can show some personality. Harper was decked out in an America sleeve and his America bat, so let’s just let him have this one. Yes, maybe he and his father (who pitched to Harper in the derby) cheated, but I noticed Schwarber getting a couple swings off quickly in his close battle against Hoskins as well. Chalk this one up as good ole’ American fun, and let’s just enjoy the All-Star Game tonight.