One of the summer’s most entertaining sporting spectacles, MLB’s Home Run Derby has taken different forms over the years, but Aaron Judge might've helped bring the event back to its must-see status with his dominant performance in one of the more highly anticipated Derbies in recent memory.
Just as baseball legends Mark McGwire or Ken Griffey Jr. would steal the show and electrify the crowd with their exhibitions, Judge did the same with his mammoth dingers that will have sports fans talking for awhile.
Judge even elicited comparisons to Tiger Woods in the effortless fashion the 25-year-old New York Yankee slugged his way to a victory over Miguel Sano of the Minnesota Twins.
“When [Tiger] showed up, it was like, we're playing for second,” ESPN’s Karl Ravech said before the finals. "This has the same sort of feel."
Say what you want about the format, which now pits eight competitors in a match-play bracket with five minutes to hit as many home runs as you can, but the result was an exciting exhibition by Judge and a few other surprise contenders. Though many expected defending champion Giancarlo Stanton and this year’s MLB home-run leader Judge to be on a crash course for a match-up in the finals, Stanton was knocked off by Judge's New York Yankees teammate Gary Sanchez in front of Stanton's home crowd in Miami.
Stanton's teammate, Justin Bour, threatened to upset Judge with a first-round showing of 22 homers. But Judge knocked 23 out of the park, and it was no looking back from there.
And it seemed like everyone was in awe of Judge hitting bomb after bomb.
Then there was this roof shot that Judge hit in the first round.
The judges maliciously didn't count that bomb due to Miami's local rules, so with five seconds left in the sudden-death tiebreaker being told he still needed one more homer to surpass Bour, Judge did just that.
Anddddd then he went off.
The only thing missing was Chris Berman freaking out over every moon shot.
Though perhaps coming up shy of all-time Derbies such as Mark McGwire dominating at Fenway Park (only to fall to Griffey Jr. in the finals, or Todd Frazier against Joc Pederson), the excitement that Judge created is great for one of sports' best All-Star Game exhibitions.