DENVER — There were many delicious moments Monday night in the Home Run Derby — baseball's version of a strongman contest.
In fact, the best ones did not feature the winners. Among those was the Rockies' Trevor Story reaching the semifinals, belting a 518-foot home run and bathing in multiple standing ovations.
Or Juan Soto and Shohei Ohtani engaging in a match that needed an octagon, going into triple overtime before the Washington Nationals slugger eliminated the crowd favorite.
Sitting with Woody Paige, getting regaled by his stories, made it even more interesting, from the one-liners to the plot lines. It brought back memories of working together on deadline at The Denver Post.
The best story of Monday — and that's hard to fathom given the display cancer survivor Trey Mancini staged — was a Re-Pete. No one enjoyed, reviled, bopped and danced through this competition like the Mets first baseman Pete Alsono. He owns back-to-back HR Derby titles. There was no competition last season, and Alonso bottled up that energy and exploded like a Red Bull. Or more like a Polar Bear.
That is his nickname. It could be Dancing Bear or just That Dude. Alonso told me before the game that his strategy was simple.
"Let it Eat!" he barked.
His attitude and enthusiasm for this event is contagious. With Ohtani and Story attracting eyeballs, Alonso won over the crowd with 35 home runs in the first round. He punctuated it with a "Let's [bleeping] go!" He was made for this event. The fact that he digs fishing and hiking in Colorado made it all the more fitting.
Daydream Rockies fans and imagine Alonso manning first base for the Rockies. His BP would be worth the price of admission.
With Mancini posting a healthy 22 in the finals, Alonso had a mountain to climb. He wasn't in Crocs at the base of Long's Peak. But it was a challenge for a man of normal strength.
Alonso reached 12 with 36 seconds remaining before bonus time. At that point, he had 63 home runs in the contest. He entered with 17 in the extra period. It was 8:44 p.m. local time. He starting gyrating and demolishing baseballs. He walked it off to fireworks and "I Love It" blaring through a sold out Coors Field.
Alonso finished with more than 70 home runs.
"I feel like I am the best power hitter," Alonso said on the field.
Nothing he did Monday changed that notion. He finished with a 520 foot home run, longest of the night and in the Statcast era.
None left the stadium or broke windshields in the parking lot. But several dropped jaws.
The event was entertaining for the flex and the upsets. Ohtani went homerless in his first 16 swings and then had five swings to knock out Soto in overtime, but failed to do so. The 22-year-old Sota advanced. And as impressive as he was, he proved no match for Alonso.
Story made good to put on a great show. His 518-foot blast left was silly. He received a boost from former teammate Nolan Arenado during one timeout, enjoying the exchange.
Yes, this event is manufactured and maybe a little goofy, but after a year without crowds in a sterile existence of Zooms, no one left unhappy. Especially not the Polar Bear who danced his way into the Mile High City's hearts.
"I love this," Alonso said earlier in the day. "I believe my experience will work to my advantage."