Alex Bregman represents Houston in the derby

2019 MLB Home Run Derby Recap

Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Before all of the All-Stars took the field on Tuesday night in Cleveland, a few of the strongest bats in the league went toe-to-toe in the Home Run Derby on Monday, including Houston's own Alex Bregman. Here is a recap of the night full of dingers:

Round 1 - Matchup 1: #5 Joc Pederson vs. #4 Alex Bregman

Houston fans didn't have to wait long to see their guy step into the box; his matchup was first on the schedule. Joc Pederson, the five seed from the Dodgers, went first, and was able to get 17 home runs in his regular four minutes, but was able to get an extension of 30 seconds by hitting two over 440 feet. He would add four more in those 30 seconds, setting the bar at 21 for Alex Bregman.

Bregman had plenty of friends cheering him on, but Bregman got out to a rough start, getting just six homers in the first minute and a half before taking his timeout. He did better after his break, but would be unable to get on a big enough streak, ending his round with 16 and coming up five home runs short, losing in the first round for the second straight year.

Winner: Joc Pederson

Round 1 - Matchup 2: #8 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. vs. #1 Matt Chapman

The next matchup was between the lowest seeded, and youngest ever participant, Vladimir Guerrero Jr of the Blue Jays and the highest seeded Matt Chapman from the A's, who took the spot of Christian Yelich who sat out the tournament with back soreness. Guerrero Jr. came out swinging, launching some monster dingers in the early parts of his round, quickly earning a 30-second bonus. He took his timeout with 2:48 left and seven homers on the board. He went on to finish his regular four minutes with 24 then added four more in his extra time for a total of 28, a new single-round record.

Matt Chapman waited longer into his round to take his break, stopping with 1:47 left but with just nine long balls recorded, though he had already earned the 30-second extension. He took his 13 total into the extra half-minute but would be unable to add any more, losing the round.

Winner: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Round 1 - Matchup 3: #6 Ronald Acuna Jr. vs. #3 Josh Bell

The next matchup started with Ronald Acuna Jr. from the Braves who put together a solid round. He quickly hit two home runs over the 440 foot mark, earning the bonus time when his regular four minutes was over. He hit 11 out of the park before taking his timeout with 1:41 left. He went on a tear after his breather, getting 12 more to bring his regular-time total to 23 then added one more in the extra time to finish with 24 overall.

Josh Bell of the Pirates looked to beat that high total, but would struggle to find his rhythm in the first half of his time, going into his break with just four and 2:33 left on the clock. He would heat up after that, getting up to 17 at the end of four minutes. He would only be able to add one more in the extra time, ending with 18 and losing the round.

Winner: Ronald Acuna Jr.

Round 1 - Matchup 4: #7 Carlos Santana vs. #2 Pete Alonso

The final matchup of the first round started with the hometown representative, Carlos Santana of the Indians. He was slow out the gate, not getting his first home run until nearly a minute into his clock. He would struggle to string multiple long balls together, taking his time out with five on the board and just 1:41 left. He did well in the remainder of his time, climbing up to 13, but would not earn the bonus time.

That set things up for rookie Pete Alonso of the Mets, the number two seed in the bracket. He too would have a rough start to his round, taking his timeout with 1:44 left on the clock and behind the pace at six home runs. He would do better with the time he had left, hitting the round-winning fourteenth home run with just a few seconds left in his regular time.

Winner: Pete Alonso

Round 2 - Matchup 1: #8 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. vs. #5 Joc Pederson 

Guerrero Jr. was first up in the second round and was once again hitting mammoth homers at a quick rate, getting nine quickly and earning the bonus time before taking his timeout early with 2:39 left in the round. He would continue to mash dinger after dinger, ending his original four minutes with 27. In his extra 30 seconds, he would match his record he set in the previous round, getting two more to bring his total to 29.

Pederson didn't go quietly or surrender his time away, getting out to a hot start in his half of the round. He earned his extra 30 seconds and had 14 home runs when he took his time out halfway through his time. He kept stringing multiple home runs together, staying within reach and ending his regular four minutes with 27, just two away from Guerrero's total. Pederson would finish tied with 29 total.

That set up a one-minute tiebreaker, where Guerrero Jr. would start things off with eight more home runs to bring his total to 37. Pederson, after an amazing round to tie things up, would match Guerrero Jr. yet again, getting eight of his own to re-tie things at 37 in the round.

The next tiebreaker was a three swing matchup. Guerrero Jr. left an opening for Pederson, getting just one home run out of his three chances. Pederson was in a great position after getting one down on his first swing but would come short on his second and third swings, setting up one more round.

In the next swing-off, Guerrero Jr. would get home runs on the first two swings before flying out on the third. That would be enough to win the absolute thriller of a round, with Pederson getting just one home run in his half of the third tiebreaker.

Winner: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Round 2 - Matchup 2: #6 Ronald Acuna Jr. vs. #2 Pete Alonso

In the other semifinal, Acuna Jr. started slower than in his first round, getting nine home runs before calling his timeout with 1:42 left. He was able to pick up the pace slightly after that and after getting his two 440-plus homers headed into his bonus 30 seconds with a total of 18. He would get just one more in the extra time, ending with 19.

Alonso looked to be in trouble, getting just eight home runs before taking his break with 1:49 left, though he had already added 30 seconds to his time. He wouldn't need it, though, getting winning home run number 20 on the last swing of his regular four minutes, sending him on to the final round.

Winner: Pete Alonso

Round 3 - Final: #8 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. vs. #2 Pete Alonso

The final matchup would pit the two dominant rookies against each other, and first to the plate was Guerrero Jr. who hoped to get one more electric round to take home the crown. He would take his first of two timeouts allowed in the final round with 2:52 left and with five homers recorded. He added three more before taking the other timeout a minute later. He finished his initial four minutes with 20 before coming back for his 30 second bonus time. In the bonus time, he would tack on two more to end at 22, bringing his total for the night to 91, a new record.

That put the ball in Alonso's hands, and he would start decently, getting eight homers before his first timeout with 2:47 left. He added ten more, including two over 440 feet to earn 30 more seconds, before taking his other break with 1:02 left. He would not need the extra time, getting the winning 23rd home run of the round with 18 seconds left.

Winner and 2019 Home Run Derby Champion: Pete Alonso

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Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March. Photo via: NRG Park/Facebook

Football players, coaches and general managers have come and gone, but only one person has been running the business side of the Texans, well, even before they were the Texans. Jamey Rootes has been President of the Houston Texans since 1999, when an NFL team in Houston was still just a gleam in owner Bob McNair's eyes. That's before the team adopted the name "Texans" in 2000, before there was NRG Stadium, which opened as Reliant Stadium in 2000, and before they became serial champs of the AFC South, six titles between 2011-2019.

The precise date was Oct. 6, 1999 when NFL owners voted 29-0 to award the NFL's 32nd and newest franchise to Houston. Not only that, Houston was awarded the 2004 Super Bowl. Rootes, 34 years old with no NFL experience, had his work cut out for him. Before taking the job in Houston, Rootes was team president, general manager and CEO of selling peanuts and popcorn for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.

Major League Soccer, with all due respect, is not nearly a national obsession like the National Football League.

"I wasn't intimidated," Rootes said. "There's a quote that I love, 'Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.' I've always been a purpose-driven person. As for the step up to the NFL, I went from knowing nothing at the start of my time in Columbus to five years later thinking, OK, I've got this sports thing down. Actually, I had a very significant reduction in my responsibilities in Houston. When I was in Columbus, I ran the stadium, I ran the team's business, I was the general manager so I did the talent side of it, too. When I came to Houston, all I had to do was the business, so that was great."

Rootes has captured his remarkable journey from the soccer team at Clemson to grad school at Indiana University to the business world at IBM and Proctor & Gamble to the Clemson Crew, to ultimately being named President of the Houston Texans in his new book, The Winning Game Plan: A Proven Leadership Playbook for Continuous Business Success, available next week.

I've known Rootes from his day one with the Texans, but I still had to ask: everybody knows what the general manager does, and what the head coach does. What exactly does the President of an NFL team worth $3.3 billion do?

"I like to use the parallel of a pharmaceutical company to describe my job. There are two sides to that company. First you put scientists in one building and you leave them alone. They create products, which is what our football team is. The football side has a coach and general manager and all the people who prepare the team to play on Sunday. But getting that product to market is done by the business side, traditional business disciplines. Those are the things that fall to me. Basically, everything between the white lines is run by the football side. Everything outside of those lines, I do," Rootes said.

Between 1999 and 2002, when the Texans played their first game (let the record show the Texans defeated the Dallas Cowboy, 19-10), the team was essentially a massive start-up project. First orders of business for Rootes involved building a new stadium, developing relationships with suppliers, contractors and government officials, preparing for a Super Bowl and, most important, developing a relationship with fans.

Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March, but it's really an accumulation of lessons learned and behind-the-scenes stories about building the Texans from scratch into one of the most admired and valuable franchises in all of sports.

"I've always been a meticulous note-taker. I've kept every presentation I've ever done. I took all of my notes and concepts and put those down on paper," Rootes said. "To be a good leader, you need a wild imagination. You can show me a blank piece of paper, but I don't see it as blank. To me, it's a finished product that hasn't been created yet," Rootes said.

Rootes lays out his leadership strategy in seven chapters: Are You a Manager or a Leader, Get the Right People on Your Team, Build a Winning Culture, Create Raving Fans, a Winning Playbook for Adversity and Success, Your Leadership Playbook and Play to Win.

He learned lesson No. 1 the hard way. A friend once counseled Rootes, "your staff doesn't like the way you're all up in their business, you need to back off." Rootes took that advice to heart.

"It was an epiphany. I wasn't a leader. That's when I truly began thinking about leadership. I say this all the time, I don't do anything. All I do is create an environment where exceptional people can be their very best self. I know what's going on. I'm fully informed. I leave every game day exhausted. I get there early. I do the things I need to do. I kiss babies. I shake hands. I present checks. I entertain clients. I'm dialed in. It absolutely wears me out because I love this organization so much. I am so proud of what we've been able to do for this great city of Houston."

I asked Rootes, as someone who lives for Game Day and a packed NRG Stadium, are you devastated by 2020, the year of COVID-19 and small crowds limited by Centers for Disease Control guidelines?

"I don't look at it that way. I think there's a song by 10,000 Maniacs that said, these are the days that you'll remember. I told my staff, I know you're all going through hell right now, but later on in life, you'll talk about this year. Things that are important are memorable, for the positive and those things that leave a scar. You learn from adversity and you're a better person for enduring it. Victor Frankl said 'We can discover meaning in life in three different ways, by creating a work or doing a deed, experiencing something or encountering someone, and by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.' Suffering is part of life. He should know, he survived a Nazi concentration camp," Rootes said.

H-E-B President Scott McClelland wrote the forward to The Winning Game Plan. Rootes dedicates the book to late Texans owner Bob McNair. Rootes' book is a fun read. All I kept thinking was, where was this book when I needed it? And before you buy too much into Rootes as a leader, consider that Rootes admits that he had to ask for wife Melissa's permission before he could accept the Texans job.

Personal note: I believe that a big part of leadership is the ability to keep a promise. Several years ago, I was riding my bicycle with my dog Lilly on a leash. It was the only way I could keep up with her. Well, one time Lilly saw a squirrel and pulled me off my bicycle. I tumbled a few times and rolled next to the curb. When I looked up, there was Jamey Rootes. I told him, "There's no need for you to tell anybody about this." He never said a word.

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