The 700 Level Predicts the 2013 Home Run Derby

The 700 Level Predicts the 2013 Home Run Derby

We are here at Citi Field for the 2013 Home Run Derby. It's hot and cramped and there are actually dudes wearing Lucas Duda and Andrew Brown jerseys, but the prospect of eventual HOME RUNS should make it all worthwhile. Domonic Brown is not present, because David Wright is a hater and because Virginia high school baseball ties obviously overrule basic numerical logic when selecting derby participants, but we still have eight of the league's premiere power hitters solemnly pledging to hit the ball over the wall a bunch of times for Chris Berman's and our entertainment. Good enough for a Monday night where absolutely nothing else in sports is happening.

So who's gonna hit the most dingers tonight? Well, it doesn't really matter--if you can name more than two of the last five players to win this thing, you probably did a Sporcle on it earlier today or something. (And before you guess Josh Hamilton, he didn't even technically win his year.) Like the NBA's three-point contest, the winner of these things is usually the guy nobody actually predicts to win, because there's no particularly interesting storyline to it.

Therefore, using the contest's traditional lack of obvious winners as a guiding tool, here's our quasi-paradoxical predictions for the final standings of tonight's longball-off:

8. David Wright (Home team guy never wins)
7. Chris Davis (Actual best home-run hitter never wins)
6. Bryce Harper (Biggest star never wins)
5. Prince Fielder (Last year's winner never wins)
4. Robinson Cano (Primary geographical rival never wins)
3. Pedro Alaverz (Hometown guy never wins)
2. Michael Cuddyer (Nepotistic selection never wins)

That leaves Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes, the entrant with absolutely no connection to derby history, the home team or the host players, and nothing all that interesting about him besides the fact that he's the one guy here not participating in the game proper. That's dangerously close to a real storyline, but it's the least we have from any of the contestants, for sure.

A preemptive congrats to Yoenis, then, for his win at the 2013 Home Run Derby. Sorry for the spoilers, but hey, you can still watch to find out how he gets the win, along with watching David Wright's inevitable disappointment of the home crowd, and seeing who has by far the most homers going into the final round before choking in the finals and ending up as less than a footnote. Gotta love the predictable unpredictability of the Home Run Derby.

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The sprawling city skyline could have been the highlight of the Sixers' team dinner at One Liberty Place on Monday night. Instead, it was a surprise celebrity appearance that left it in awe.

Will Smith, who is part of the Sixers’ ownership, caught the players off guard when he visited with the team to offer advice and answer questions.

“Man, that’s one of my idols,” Nerlens Noel said following the first training camp session at Stockton University. “Everything he said I really took in and all the guys did too.”

Rather than entertaining the group with his acting or musical skills, Smith imparted important lessons that are applicable in sports. The 48-year-old has had decades of success across multiple platforms, and he offered pieces of wisdom that can resonate in any situation. 

“If you have bad people around you, that’s how people see you and that’s how you are,” Joel Embiid said. “He said to have good people around. That’s the main thing I got from that.”

The Sixers had differing memorable moments the morning after Smith’s visit, which demonstrated how many topics he addressed with the team. 

“He’s a good guy,” Ben Simmons said. “I definitely learned a lot from hearing him talk … You’ve got to look at things from a positive and negative with every situation.”

Jahlil Okafor was especially caught up in Smith’s appearance. Smith is Okafor’s favorite actor, most notably for his role in I Am Legend, and impressed Okafor with his character. 

“We already know about his accolades and how smart he is and obviously he’s an entertaining person,” Okafor said. “But it just seemed like he really wanted to be there to help us out. I just took away that he was a great person.”

Okafor also added, “It just helps [to hear from him] because the road to success is pretty much the same. It’s about being focused, it’s about knowing that you’re going to be knocked down, you’re going to fail. That was one of the messages that Will Smith shared, was expect failure but the main thing is to get back up.”

Noel previously had seen Smith courtside at Sixers games, and this was his first opportunity to hear directly from him. Noel listened to everything Smith had to say, from how to deal with the media to ranking his best and worst movies. 

“Never get caught up in too much of the negativity,” Noel recounted. 

While people view professional athletes as celebrities, the Sixers were on the opposite side Monday evening. 

“It’s hard to get starstruck nowadays,” Noel said. “But when you see Will Smith, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

If healthy, Ryan Howard is expected to start all three games in the Phillies' final series of the season Sept. 2-4 at home against the Mets.

He might also start the entire Braves series.

The Phillies' final six games are all against right-handed starting pitchers: Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz and Josh Collmenter in Atlanta; Robert Gsellman, Bartolo Colon and Noah Syndergaard with the Mets. That could mean six starts for Howard before his time with the Phillies expires.

Howard's batting average has been below .200 for practically the entire season, but he's been much better since the All-Star break, hitting .259/.325/.598 with 11 homers, five doubles and 25 RBIs in 123 plate appearances (see game notes). He went 0 for 6 in his last two starts but homered in each of his two previous starts to reach 23 for the third year in a row.

Here's the Phillies' full lineup Tuesday against Teheran:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Roman Quinn, LF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Aaron Altherr, RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff, P

Matt Kemp is out of the Braves' lineup.

1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Adonis Garcia, 3B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Tyler Flowers, C
6. Jace Peterson, 2B
7. Dansby Swanson, SS
8. Mallex Smith, LF
9. Julio Teheran, P

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