The Battle of Virginia's Best
We took off for the weekend to head down to the Hampton Roads area for a Home Run Derby competition between some of Major League Baseball's brightest young stars.
The Grassfield High School was conducting the Derby as a fundraiser for the school and for the players' chosen charities.
We arrived early to secure a good seat and stood in line with all the locals. David Wright fans were everywhere. A fan explained to us that of the six stars in today's competition, Wright grew up closest to this high school and has tons of fans. Michael Cuddyer of the Twins also went to one of the Chesepeake High Schools.
The guys took two rounds of practice before beginning the competition. In practice, Mark Reynolds of the Diamonbacks looked amazing. He took some mammoth swings and quickly got everyone's attention.
Zimmerman's off-season swing looked like mid-July, classic Ryan. He launched two home runs in his practice turns.
Round One began with all the guys getting 1o outs (any swing that isn't a home run is an out) to hit as many homers as they can. Justin Upton started things off hitting four home runs out of the park. Mark Reynolds followed, but having shown his best stuff in practice, he connected only twice. BJ Upton followed with 3 of his own.
Next came our guy. Zimmerman's classic comfortable swing launched three out of the park to tie with BJ. Crowd favorite David Wright also nailed three home runs.
Lastly, Michael Cuddyer entered the batters box. The slugger's big swings sent seven balls out of the Grassfield High School field.
Mark Reynolds was eliminated in the first round. The tie between BJ, Ryan, and David would be settled with a "swing-off."
Each star would get 5 outs to get as many home runs as possible. The two with the highest totals would advance to the semi-finals.
Upton failed to secure any home runs during his at bat. Zimmerman sent one to deep center and David Wright had two more. Ryan and David advanced.
Nationals star Zimmerman started Round II because of his lowest total in Round I. He started to find his groove and sent seven balls flying over the fence in center and left field. He had us saying "See you later" a couple of times. David Wright, however, found his groove too. David tied Zimmerman with 7.
Justin Upton took his turn and completed only 4 home runs, securing his own elimination.
Cuddyer again impressed the fans with eight huge home runs to advance to the finals.
Zimmerman and Wright had another "Swing-Off."
This showdown between the NL East rivals had the crowd silent.
In only five outs, Zimmerman took three deep.
David was up and quickly tied Ryan's three. He also had four outs. Everyone was silent - anticipating his next swing. Sure enough, David drove that ball out to center to knock Zimmerman out of the competition.
Wright and Cuddyer advanced to the Final Round. David still looked great, taking four out of the park. Cuddyer again showed the young guys how it's done. He hit 15 balls out of the park to crush Wright for the Championship.
Afterwards, the guys all filtered out but David Wright stopped to sign autographs for a really long time.
It was a beautiful day for baseball and one small way to help us get through the off-season. The Grassfield High School did such a great job planning and executing this wonderful event. This community is so lucky to have a rich baseball tradition and some excellent young men to represent them in baseball stadiums across the country.
Ryan was interviewed during the event and told the media that it is pretty cool to have grown up playing with these guys, and that they are all still friends. They all played golf together yesterday.
Great weekend trip!