UPDATE: The start of the Home Run Derby has been delayed by rain. That's either bad luck, or it's Josh Donaldson with the most badass intro in the history of sports. The contest is expected to begin at 5:30 p.m.
The 2014 MLB Home Run Derby has arrived, and against all odds the Oakland Athletics have two participants among the field of 10 hitters -- Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Donaldson. The A's don't usually get a lot of love in this kind of thing, given their homer-suppressing home park and their relative lack of national attention, but between Cespedes winning last year's edition and the A's putting together a powerful and dominant offense this season (as well as the expanded field of players, up from eight to 10) they were able to get a second player included. This is the first time since 2004 that a team has sent two players without one of them being a team captain who got to pick his own teammate; that year, Baltimore's Miguel Tejada won the whole thing while being joined by fellow Oriole Rafael Palmeiro.
The A's have brought home the Home Run Derby Trophy (does it have a name?) twice: Mark McGwire in 1992, and Yoenis Cespedes in 2013. Before Cespedes last year, the A's hadn't been represented since Jason Giambi took part in 2001.
There is a new format this year. Each league has a five-man squad. In the first round, each player gets seven outs to hit as many homers as possible. (An out is a swing that doesn't result in a homer; each round has seven outs this year instead of 10.) The top three from each league advance. In the second round, the Nos. 2 and 3 from each league square off head-to-head. The winner of each of those matchups faces the No. 1 from his respective league in the third round. Finally, the winners of each league go mano-a-mano to determine the champion. If it sounds complicated, then check out the bracket in visual form. The bottom line is that the rounds will go faster with fewer outs, and every new round starts with a 0-0 score rather than a cumulative total from previous rounds (but the Round 1 winners still receive a big boost via a bye to the third round).
The field is listed below, including their 2014 home run totals. Click here for an interesting look at the longest homers hit by each player this season.
Jose Bautista, Toronto, 17 homers. The AL team captain. He is one of the favorites to win.
Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland, 14 homers. The reigning champ. He is always a favorite to win a contest based on hitting things a long way. The only person to win two consecutive years was Ken Griffey Jr. in 1998-99. (The Derby started in 1985.) He could totally do it.
Josh Donaldson, Oakland, 20 homers. It rains way more in Minnesota than in Oakland. He's gonna win just because we all think he's in a slump.
Adam Jones, Baltimore, 16 homers. Finally, an offensive environment in which it won't matter that Jones can't take a walk. In a contest rewarding aggressive hitting, he'll win.
Brian Dozier, Minnesota, 18 homers. He's a good slugger, but he was clearly picked as a nod to the host team, his Minnesota Twins. Which means that he'll win, because baseball.
Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado, 21 homers. The NL team captain. Unfortunately, this contest isn't being held in Coors Field. But he'll still win, to boost his value at the trade deadline.
Justin Morneau, Colorado, 13 homers. Hey look, a team captain picked his mostly undeserving teammate. Morneau won in 2008, but it's hard to justify his inclusion in 2014. Which means he'll win. (Edit: My bad, Morneau makes sense as a former Twins MVP.)
Yasiel Puig, Dodgers, 12 homers. He'll probably waste all of his energy running out all his hits, despite the shouts from all around him that it's just a hitting exhibition. "What do you mean I'm out? I made it all the way to third base and that small child who fielded the ball never tagged me!" But then he'll win anyway just so that ESPN has more reasons to talk about him.
Giancarlo Stanton, Miami, 21 homers. This is the most exciting part of the derby. Stanton might be the biggest, burliest, sluggeriest slugger in baseball right now, and this is his first Derby. He is the clear favorite to win.
Todd Frazier, Cincinnati, 19 homers. Meet Todd Frazier. He plays baseball for the Reds. Whether or not you've heard of him tells you how closely you follow baseball. He's not unknown, and he's been good since 2012, but he's nowhere near being a household name and he was actually slightly below-average at the plate last year. He's sort of a poor man's Donaldson, a solid-hitting third baseman with some power and above-average defense. The Bringer of Mist and Drizzle, if you will. And he'll win precisely because you've never heard of him.
Good luck to Cespedes and Donaldson! How do you say "good luck" in baseball terms? Uhh, break a bat, fellas! Follow along with us in the comments as we watch this silly but strangely captivating event.