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Handicapping the Celebrity Home Run Derby

Who's going yard

blog by Ben Kirst  • 

Prior to the start of the extended Memorial Day weekend, the Buffalo Bisons made two interesting announcements—the first being that less than 7,000 tickets remain for the Triple-A All-Star Game at Coca-Cola Field on Wednesday, July 11. Get those tickets today! The 2011 game, held in Salt Lake City, included appearances by impact Major Leaguers like Yonder Alonso (San Diego Padres), Tommy Milone (Oakland Athletics), Jason Kipnis (Cleveland Indians), Bryan LaHair (Chicago Cubs) and David Cooper (Toronto Blue Jays), among others. As Janis Joplin said, get ‘em while you can.

The other intriguing piece of news coming out of 1 James D. Griffin Plaza was the roster for the Celebrity Home Run Derby, which will take place between rounds of the Triple-A All-Star Home Run Derby at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 9 at Coca-Cola Field. It’s a football-heavy group so far, although more names are expected to be added in the coming days. So who will wear the tater crown?

Jim Kelly: Our old friend Machine Gun Kelly is a versatile athlete—he was a nasty high-school basketball player in his East Brady (Pa.) days, ran a fast-break offense in the USFL and—you may remember—had a fairly memorable career in the National Football League. Kelly, however, is 52 years old and spent the better part of his youth avoiding massive collisions with large, angry men. He was not always successful. Kelly is a great guy, but he swaggers a bit more gingerly these days. Don’t count him out, but the reaction time probably just isn’t there anymore. ODDS OF VICTORY: 20-to-1.

Fred Jackson: Recently blessed with a fat new contract from the Buffalo Bills, will Freddy J. show the same will to win in the Home Run Derby that carried him from Division III Coe College to the NFL? Or will he become fat and complacent, happy to cash checks and hit grounders through the infield? Doubtful. Our guess is that Jackson will display the same fire that has carried him from Lamar High School in Arlington, Texas to The Ralph. Plus, the guy exhibited a Maddux-like ability to paint the corners when he threw out a pitch at The Coke earlier this season. Stand up and shout! ODDS OF VICTORY: 12-to-1

Russ Brandon: When I think of most NFL executives—Brandon is the Bills’ CEO—I think of pasty, overstressed white guys who spend 60 to 80 hours wearing ill-fitting golf shirts and battling ulcers. Not exactly a group I’d expect to pull a few heaters into the stands. Brandon, however, was an outstanding college baseball player at St. John Fisher in the late 1980s. On the other hand, he was a middle infielder who led his D-3 team in doubles and stolen bases. No offense, Russ, but warning track power and wheels won’t beat Fred Jackson. Unless he getting massive doses of The Clear from shadowy personal trainers, Brandon is not winning this thing. ODDS OF VICTORY: 100-to-1.

Rob Gronkowski: Good Lord. Gronkowski is 6-6, 265 pounds and picks Tom Brady passes out of linebacker/safety traffic the way most of us pull memos off of the copy machine. Assuming this guy can swing a bat at all—and maybe he can’t, he’s been a football machine since high school—Gronk is winning this thing. He’s also going to leave a trail of Monday night devastation on Chippewa that will be spoken of in hushed tones for decades. ODDS OF VICTORY: 2-to-1.

Nick Bakay: So, some 52-year-old ginger comedian who played the voice of a talking cat on an awful sitcom is going to win a home run derby? Not likely. By the way, Bakay is partially responsible for Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Feel free to taunt. ODDS OF VICTORY: 1,000-to-1.


TAGGED: buffalo bills, buffalo bisons, fred jackson, jim kelly, nick bakay, rob gronkowski, russ brandon, triple-a all-star game

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