Happy mother’s day!
Bryce Harper and Kayla Varner tied the knot last Saturday in San Diego…
Recognize any familiar faces in the wedding party?
Despite previous announcements that David Ortiz, Robinson Cano, and Miguel Cabrera would be participating in the Home Run Derby for the Caribbean Series tonight, MLB and the MLBPA announced on Monday that they would not be allowed to participate, reminding us yet again of the business aspects of the game. As reported by ESPN, the MLBPA executive director explained that participation in the derby would be contrary to the players’ best interests because, “Unfortunately, the people in charge of the event didn’t follow the necessary protocol to ensure that any major leaguers participating in an event like that one is protected from a possible injury.” Nonetheless, the derby will go on. Remaining in the contest are: Alfred Despaigne and Yosvani Alarcon of Cuba’s team, Felix Perez of Venezuela, Cyle Hankerd of Mexico, Kennys Vargas of Puerto Rico, and retired MLB player, Vladimir Guerrero. ESPN noted that Vargas is also an MLB player, but will be permitted to participate in the home run derby, unlike the other, higher paid, MLB stars.
Tonight’s home run derby will also make history as the first one conducted as part of the Caribbean Series. That made me wonder how long the concept has been around. The first home run derby I can remember is, naturally, the one Cal Ripken won in 1991. The other memorable HR derby, for me, was part of last year’s AAA All-Star Game, where another of my Orioles, Dariel Alvarez, won with a total of 21 home runs over three rounds.
So when did “home run derby” first become part of our lexicon? Although the first MLB home run derby was conducted in 1985, it wasn’t televised until 1993. Unfortunately, minor league baseball home run derbies were not so easily Googled, so they will require more research. I did, however, find out about a TV show from the 1960s called, “Home Run Derby.” (I’ll post more about that tomorrow.)
One of the coolest things I uncovered was this footage from 2009 with 16-year-old high schooler, Bryce Harper, competing against minor leaguers – and winning – a home run derby in Salt Lake City, UT.
This week we’ve covered MVP Bryce Harper, Cuban Baseball, rap music, and the baseball sociology of music. What better a way to round it all out with a song from the Baseball Project? The song, Hola America, is about Cuban players who defected to the U.S. (a favorite topic of mine). According to the band’s website:
“The emotional documentary about Luis Tiant,’The Lost Son of Havana’, was the catalyst for writing this song. Luis had a great career and became one of the most recognizable and beloved players of his era, but he had to escape from Cuba to make it happen. He left his family and friends behind much like Orlando Hernandez (the story behind the first 2 verses) and others who braved the dangerous journey to the U.S. with no promise of returning. Fame and fortune to be sure, but at a heavy price.”
Apparently Wale is not the only rapper that watches baseball, and apparently Bryce Harper is not his only subject. In October, Uproxx identified 20 rap songs with baseball references. That got me wondering, are there others out there?
A brief search of the internet revealed the sources below. (I haven’t listened to all of these, or watched the videos, to verify the content, so listen/watch at your own discretion.) And for even greater entertainment, check out Straight Outta Cooperstown’s mashup of rappers and baseball players – they are awesome!
- The baseball blog, Three Up Three Down, identified its top 5 hip hop songs in 2013.
- In 2011, Bleacher Report reported on the “10 Best Rap Songs with MLB Shout-Outs.”
- XXL Magazine identified “The Best Baseball-Themed Rap Songs” in 2010.
- Genius.com has collected several MLB player references in rap, but obviously not all songs are on there.
Today our Bryce Harper trilogy ends with the last song that mentions Bryce Harper. This one really isn’t about him, but it in he does get a mention from his pal, Wale.
According to MLB’s Cut 4, Bryce started using Wale’s music as his walk-up songs and later asked Wale to mention him in his next project. The result was Wale’s 2012 song, “Change Up” (warning: explicit lyrics), which includes the line:
“Attire proper, Bryce Harper
though slightly darker”
The friendship continued, including an outing at Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington, D.C., and Wale throwing out the first pitch at a Nats game in 2013: