Wow. Just, wow.
I was on Chase Utley duty tonight in the Derby. My story was about Utley, his exploits on field and on the airwaves. And Justin Morneau won the Derby.
But really. There was one topic tonight. Josh Freakin Hamilton. Holy cow.
Down here in the workroom in the nether regions of The Stadium, all of us non-main-press-box scribes crowded around a 13-inch TV and watched Hamilton put on a show. And we reacted just like anybody else. No hardened cynics here. Shouts of “WOW” and “No WAY” and plenty of unprintable things. One fellow MLB.com writer said, “That’s one of the only times I’ve ever been in _awe_ of something someone did on a baseball field.”
So after watching that, I headed over to the NL clubhouse to chat with Mr. Utley about his evening. As several of us were standing outside the clubhouse, a number of players passed by. Dan Uggla walked past, and without anyone saying a word to him, he just said to no one in particular, “That’s not fair.”
Few minutes later, same thing with Ryan Braun. He walks past the mass of reporters, and just starts marveling aloud — not in an interview or anything, just a function of how impressed he was — “That was incredible. I’m just glad to be a part of it. I don’t know what to say.”
After all of that, I finally got in the scrum to talk to Utley. He talked a smidge about his homers, apologized for his on-air indiscretion, then, of course, talked about Hamilton. Because everybody was talking about Hamilton.
I was fortunate enough to finish my story before the final round, so I was able to go out and be among the crowd for the final. And the atmosphere was remarkable. The crowd was trying to will Hamilton to win. They were chanting his name, standing up, hollering — they were INVESTED in it. I’ve been to HR Derbys before, but never seen a crowd that cared that much about the outcome of one. This guy just really captured a crowd at one of the greatest stages in sport.
Really, really fun night. Can’t wait for tomorrow.