Kyle Schwarber

Nationals fans sent Kyle Schwarber from hero to villain in monumentally entertaining Home Run Derby

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USA TODAY

Nationals fans sent Kyle Schwarber from hero to villain in monumentally entertaining Home Run Derby

WASHINGTON, D.C. — How could someone like Kyle Schwarber play the villain?

The fan favorite who’s always quick with a smile — or an Uncle Sam costume on the Fourth of July — Schwarber doesn’t fit the mold of a loathsome target of boos. But he made quite the heel turn in the minds of Washington Nationals fans Monday night, and of course he knew it was coming.

Schwarber went from getting cheered by the legions in attendance at the Home Run Derby to getting booed when he took on, and eventually lost to, hometown hero Bryce Harper in the final round.

“I was down in the tunnel saying, ‘If we get to the finals, Harp, they’re all going to be against me. I think they’re all going to be against me,’” Schwarber said Monday night. “And then I went out there and got booed after they all got pumped up for me. That’s just the beauty of it, and I was happy for Bryce that he won it in front of the home crowd.”

Harper delivered an incredibly memorable baseball moment Monday night, catching up to Schwarber’s 18 home runs with a ridiculous display of repetitive power to win a Home Run Derby for the ages. The format of this event, revamped a couple years ago, made for a dramatic and hugely entertaining evening. Harper smacked nine homers over the final 47 seconds of the final round to tie Schwarber, then bested him in bonus time. Unsurprisingly, the home crowd was going ballistic for their boy.

But earlier in the night, it was Schwarber getting all the cheers, when he made his own last-second comeback to beat Philadelphia Phillies slugger Rhys Hoskins in the second round. Schwarber was pumping up the crowd, pumping his fists and screaming while putting on a show of his own to catch and pass Hoskins' 20 home runs and advance to the finals.

How quickly the locals forgot.

By the finals — during which Schwarber looked understandably exhausted — the crowd had turned on him, trying to get every advantage for Harper.

“As soon as I got done with that round, I told myself that he had it,” Schwarber said. “I knew that he had the home crowd behind him, and I knew that he was a very prolific power hitter with a great swing. For him to come in and do that and started getting down to the wire, all of a sudden he started racking them up one at a time. You kind of just accept your fate there.”

Perhaps the night could’ve ended differently for Schwarber had he listened more closely to the advice of his teammates, Javy Baez and Willson Contreras, who were quick with Gatorade, a towel and words of encouragement on Monday. Baez hit 16 home runs in his own first-round appearance, though Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Max Muncy knocked him out.

“I was just telling him to slow down,” Baez said. “He was kind of rushing a little bit, that’s why he was jumping to the ball.”

“They were actually giving me really good advice that I didn’t take because I was really dumb-headed,” Schwarber said. “‘Make sure you take some pitches and get the pitch that you want.’ At the end, I felt like I was swinging at everything. I was just running out of gas. I felt like I had to put up as many swings just to try to put a couple out.”

Schwarber was totally content with losing out to Harper’s home-field advantage. Though as his homers flew out deep into the right-field seats Monday night, you couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like if Schwarber was instead taking aim at Sheffield Avenue and getting his own home-field advantage from Cubs fans.

The North Side hasn’t played host to the All-Star Game since 1990, so perhaps Schwarber will still be slugging the next time the Friendly Confines are the site of the Home Run Derby.

“That’d be really cool one day if the All-Star Game’s at Wrigley,” Schwarber said, “and to participate in the Derby, that’d be fun.”

Kyle Schwarber put up an epic HR Derby showing but couldn't quite hold off Bryce Harper

Kyle Schwarber put up an epic HR Derby showing but couldn't quite hold off Bryce Harper

The hometown hero adorned with American flag attire took down America's Large Adult Son.

Bryce Harper walked off Kyle Schwarber in the 2018 Home Run Derby with his 19th homer in bonus time Monday night, lining a shot to center field to appease the Washington crowd at Nationals Park.

Schwarber went first in the Final Round, drilling 18 homers.

Harper followed and got off to a slow start, with only four dingers before he took his first timeout. As the final minute came around, it looked like Schwarber was going to take the crown, but Harper turnd in an incredible performance, hammering a ridiculous nine homers in 47 seconds at one point:

Schwarber wasn't an All-Star, but still showed out in the Derby with 55 homers total between the three rounds. Harper had only 45 overall, but 1 more when it mattered most:

Schwarber hit 16 in the first round, narrowly beating Astros infielder Alex Bregman by one homer. Schwarber followed that with 21 longballs in the next round to walk-off Rhys Hoskins in an epic, energizing performance.

The second-round performance from Schwarber was one for the ages. After Hoskins hit 20 to begin the showdown, Schwarber started his round slow before heating up. By the end, almost every swing was a shot out from Schwarbs and he pumped the crowd up with his fiery display of emotion after each blast.

And then, right before regulation time was to end, Schwarber notched a spot in the final for himself:

Despite a long day at the ballpark and a LOT of swings, Schwarber was still peppering the third deck in right field at Nationals Park and hit one dinger out at a whopping 111 mph.

Javy Baez hit 16 homers in the first round, but was ousted by Dodgers slugger Max Muncy (17 homers).

Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber select their Home Run Derby pitchers

Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber select their Home Run Derby pitchers

The 2018 Home Run Derby starts Monday night at 7 p.m., and Cubs Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber have picked who will be their pitchers.

Baez has chosen his brother Gadiel, while Schwarber selected Mike Sanicola, who played at the University of Miami and is a friend of Schwarber’s agent, Jason Romano.

Gadiel does have a baseball background in his back pocket. After playing baseball in high school, he played at Cowley College (JUCO), Tabor College (NAIA) and played in an independent league for two years.

It’ll be a first time experience for both Baez and Schwarber, who are the first Cubs to participate in the Home Run Derby since Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant did it back in 2015.

Could Baez or Schwarber be the home run king? Will just have to wait and see.