Jonny Gomes dons his Red Sox uniform again for Home Run Derby X
Earlier this afternoon, MLB announced a new touring event centered around the beloved Home Run Derby. In what could be a move that finally brings in the younger fans to the game, Home Run Derby X was born. The competition will pit four of baseball’s storied franchises as the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, and Cubs will be represented in globe-spanning competition.
Per MLB’s announcement:
"“That’s the spirit with which Major League Baseball has just announced its brand new global bracket-style competition, Home Run Derby X. Inspired by the success of MLB’s Home Run Derby, four teams representing the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers and Cubs will compete in this tournament set to be played in London, Seoul, and Mexico City later this year.”"
The teams are made up of veterans, superstars, and wild cards. For the Red Sox, they’ll be led by 2013 World Series hero Jonny Gomes. He’ll be joined by Team USA Softball veteran Paige Halstead, and British freestyle footballer Liv Cooke. Gomes will do battle against fellow Red Sox veteran Adrian Gonzalez, Nick Swisher, and Geovany Soto.
We will see the tournament take the sluggers to London, Seoul, and Mexico City with the end goal being the newly minted Home Run Derby X Championship. Each location will have a winning team and at the end of the tour, there will be a knockout round that will crown the overall champions. Oh, and this isn’t your normal Home Run Derby either, MLB made sure to spice things up. If this were 1999, that X would absolutely stand for X-treme.
MLB’s focus is on the pitchers and hitters and will elevate both spots on the diamond in order to draw the viewer’s attention to them. The fields also won’t be the size of your standard MLB stadium as they’ll need to fit into whatever spaces they select at each location.
Now it’s time to get into the real meat of the Home Run Derby X, just how the hell this thing will be played! Each hitter will be able to swing at 25 pitches but can also let 10 pass them by for a total of 35 pitches for each at-bat.
Not only will teams accumulate points for homers, but batters can also help their teams by hitting designated targets. There will be two inside the field of play and another two beyond the fences for target practice. Teams can also call for a “Hot Streak,” which will double points earned on the next five pitches.
You know how every year at the Home Run Derby we see tons of local kids shagging balls in the outfield, well, those outs now count. That’s right, Red Sox Nation! Teams will be able to hang around the outfield fences and if they can catch any balls that don’t make it out, that’s more points on the board. So not only do you have the added pressure of wasted pitches on missed homers, but you could actually be helping out the opposition by not smacking some dingers.
This new concept really could do what MLB wants it to and bring in new eyes around the world as well as younger eyes with the exciting format. My interest was piqued when I saw the announcement but then I saw Jonny’s name on the board for the Red Sox and I went all in. If I were to choose anyone from the team’s recent history, Gomes would absolutely be on that list.
Gomes’ time in Boston was relatively short as he spent 2013 with the Red Sox and then the first half of 2014 before being traded back to Oakland. In 116 games in 2013, he’d post a .247/.344/.426 slash with 17 doubles, 13 homers, and 52 RBI. More importantly, his go-ahead 3-run homer in Game 4 of the World Series would tie things up at two-apiece and Boston would never look back.
I love nothing more than seeing former Red Sox players excited to wear the uniform one more time, no matter the situation. Not only does Gomes get to wear the “B” again but he also gets to compete for bragging rights for the organization. One more chance at the spotlight and glory is more than enough motivation for an athlete and I think we’ll see some pretty damn good shows from everyone involved.