Yoenis Cespedes Owns Home Run Derby, Can't Say We Didn't Warn You

Yoenis Cespedes Owns Home Run Derby, Can't Say We Didn't Warn You

Well, hopefully even with our predictive spoilers, you were able to enjoy the best Home Run Derby in half a decade. Just as we called it, Yoenis Cespedes laid waste to the 2013 Home Run Derby, smacking a total of 32 home runs--and he could've probably hit a bunch more if that wasn't all he needed to pass second-place finisher Bryce Harper. If this doesn't teach you about the backwards principles of always choosing the least predictable HR derby winner, nothing will. (For the record, we also called David Wright being a let down, which was almost too easy, though we were off on the second-round leader choking in the finals, since that was also Cespedes.)

It was a hell of a thing watching Cespedes. Aside from one cheapie he hit just over the line in left in the finals--which made up for the shot to deep center he missed by a half an inch just before--it seemed like every single one of his dingers was a moon shot, no-doubters off the bat that ended up in the second and third decks all over the field. His outrageous high-arcers stood in sharp contrast to the screamers that Harper hit, which were no less impressive in their line-drive velocity. The home run was on full display in all its grandeur tonight, and not a single contestant--not even Wright--posted anything close to an 0-fer, a nice change of pace from the last few years.

Good times, even with no Domonator. Hopefully he'll show up big time at tomorrow night's game to demonstrate what the NL was missing in this one.

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

NEW ORLEANS — Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to coexist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right foot fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."