Tag Archives: Home Run Derby

Why I Won’t Watch the Home Run Derby and MLB All-Star Game

The All-Star game and Home Run Derby used to be worthwhile.  My favorite memory of the “Mid-Summer Classic” was Ken Griffey Jr. rocking home runs in 1998 and 1999 and winning back-to-back home run derby titles.  By far my favorite player with the prettiest swing ever, Griffey gave hope to a steroid-laden era that there may have been someone who did it naturally.  The whole “who’s on steroids and who isn’t” debate has been so diluted, Jose Bautista, the MLB’s new home run king won’t even get a sniff of credit from me because I can’t trust any players. It was exciting baseball when Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were going home run for home run and smashed the long ball and ratings record.  There wasn’t a more personally exciting season in baseball (besides the Phillies winning the 08 World Series of course) when Barry Bonds broke the home run record again. But allegations, confessions, and the “Mitchell Report” exposed the cheaters for who they were and baseball hasn’t recovered since.  It took the most exciting play in sports and made it as exciting as a bloop single.  The Home Run Derby was something that was to be desired (in 1998, Griffey Jr. won with a total of seven home runs).  It was hard to hit home runs, but now with undetectable human-growth hormones and performance-enhancing drugs, how can anyone appreciate David Ortiz or Robinson Cano hitting 18 home runs in the Home Run Derby?

That’s just the home run part of it.  I don’t even want to talk about the “show” of it. I do like the sportsmanship and how each player participating wants to see everyone do their best, but I can’t stand the production of the whole thing.  Do you really need Chris Berman screaming “Backbackbackbackback GONE! WHOOP! ROBINSON ‘IF YOU DON’T KNOW NOW YA’ CANO!” (He’s run his course, I loved the nicknames as a kid, but when he runs out of breath after each sentence and barely chokes out a few more words it’s time for him to retire.)?   Bring someone in with some personality and some energy like Stephen A. Smith; someone who will raise his voice and won’t use catch phrases (think about it, could you imagine Smith as a commentator?  One can dream…) It’s like the Super Bowl halftime show, there’s just too much going on.  It’s supposed to be an event every adult thinks back to their childhood when they would have home run derbies with their friends and children to appreciate the difficulty and purity of it.

Then there’s the likes if the Legend-Celebrity Softball game that was a good idea, but is saturated with too many no names. To have the kid who does the voice of “Go Diego Go” is ridiculous and desperate. And why do Ricky Henderson and Ozzie Smith play every year? There isn’t any other Hall of Famer that would want to play? And what’s the deal with everyone being miked up? I understand that it’s supposed to add a personal and comedic element, but the only problem is, they aren’t funny. Spare me the game, simplify everything a bit and save me as a baseball fan.

As for the All-Star game, it’s the same as every other All-Star game; boring.  It’s an exhibition match that doesn’t have the same energy like All-Star games in the past.  These players are multi-multi-million dollar earners and general managers and owners don’t want them getting hurt during an exhibition match.  What’s frustrating is the vote.  Pundits like Mike Golic can’t stand that every team is represented, but don’t mind when Derek Jeter (whose below-average season has been masked by his 3,000th hit) receives the American League starting shortstop over breakout star Asdrubal Cabrera, who is making the Cleveland Indians relevant again. What’s even more frustrating is the players who are voted into these All-Star games miss it for the sake of not wanting to play.  It is an absolute disrespect to the fans, which are directly responsible for the million-dollar contracts, to have them vote you in as a starter and then just abandon them. 

Back to Golic’s view of “every team being represented,” he needs to understand that there are small and big market teams.  Sure there are snubs, but it’s a necessary evil because if as many teams are losing money as the attendance shows then there has to be some glimpse of hope. For example, how many fans attend a Florida Marlins game, about 1,000? It’s not fair because 5 million fraudulent and front-running Yankees fan can vote in six of their players and the Marlins are left out.  And at the least the small market players actually SHOW up to the All-Star game instead of missing it.

So how did the MLB try to curtail (but failed) this?  They made the All-Star game worth something and now the winning league gets home-field advantage for the World Series.  Basically, regardless of how well a team performs throughout the season, if their team loses the All-Star game then they have to start the series with two games as the Away team. If the leagues had the same rules it wouldn’t be so bad, but the American League has a designated hitter compared to the National League where the pitchers hit.  So if the Phillies play the Red Sox in the World Series and American League wins the All-Star game, the Phillies will start the series in Boston, regardless if they have the better record.  Shame on you Bud Selig.

It’s not the worst of all the All-Star events (the NFL has that locked) and it gets by off of tradition.  But it won’t last forever and they need to adjust as soon as possible.