Everyone loves the long ball. The fans love to see them, the sports media focuses on who is hitting them, our sluggers are celebrated in the sport of baseball. So how can the home run derby, as organized by ESPN and Major League Baseball, be so boring?
The home run derby as it is currently done is way too long, contains too much talking by Chris Berman, too many interviews and shots of players trying to either “increase the drama” or “humanize the players”. Somewhere about the second round I quit paying attention. The last two years I must confess I didn’t stay up to the end–three hours of watching the same guys hit gets repetitive and the excitement is gone.
Here is my plan for jazzing up the home run derby. I guarantee that everyone would stay up to the end of the competition if I was put in charge. My home run derby would look like this–there would be three competitions, one for pitchers, one to see who could hit the longest home run, and one to see who could hit the most home runs.
Wouldn’t it be great to take four all star pitchers from each league, ones who have hit at least one or two home runs in a game situation or, in the case of the AL pitchers, ones who just want to give it a try or who did some hitting when they pitched in the NL, and let them go at it? Wouldn’t you love to see Stephen Strasburg wailing away at some BP pitches in a home run derby? I think he would be in the running to win the pitcher home run derby. Talk about pitcher bragging rights–you know pitchers are so competitive that they would do anything to be able to call themselves the home run derby winner.
Next would be the competition for the longest home run. Take the eight guys who appear most often on the list for hitting the longest home runs up to the all star break of over 425 feet and see who can hit the longest long ball of the night. ESPN could publicize its home run tracker website by using it to select the competitors. Lets see who can send it out of the park. Longest home run wins. If someone can’t participate because of injury or because they want their break, go down the list to get your participants.
Then the final competition, hitting the most home runs. One round, ten outs per competitor, four competitors per league, whoever hits the most home runs wins. No three rounds, no watching the same guys hitting over and over again. Just one head to head competition. Whoever can get out there and hit the most home runs the first and only chance they get wins. The participants should be either the four players from each league who hit the most home runs last season or who are leading their respective leagues through the end of June each year.
I have to admit I don’t like the current method of selecting the participants, where the team captain selects the competitors. How in the world is Adam Dunn, who has hit twenty-five home runs this year, only two less than Jose Bautista, not participating in the home run derby this year? Adam hits lots of home runs and he hits for distance. Matt Kemp deciding to participate by hitting instead of by just being the captain after just coming off the DL worked out about like expected–he hit one home run. Really–Joey Votto, Jason Heyward or Ryan Braun would have been better choices. Ooops– Braun isn’t an acceptable choice to MLB since he won his drug suspension case by showing how cheap skate and inept the drug testing program is.
These changes would make the home run derby much more interesting and widen the list of players that people would get to see participate. It would be more interesting than watching Prince Fielder and Bautista take a third set of swings.