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One of the 5,359 reasons the Home Run Derby sucks

Jul 13, 2009, 8:54 AM EDT

And now, the moment only the masochistic among you have been waiting for, the Home Run Derby:

The 2009 State Farm Home Run Derby field was finalized on Sunday,
when American League home run leader Carlos Pena was named to replace
the Red Sox’s Dustin Pedroia on the AL roster for Tuesday’s All-Star
Game and as the fourth AL entrant in the Derby . . . Pena joins Tigers
third baseman Brandon Inge, Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz and Twins
catcher Joe Mauer from the Junior Circuit, and the National League
features big league homer leader, hometown hero and All-Star
centerpiece Albert Pujols of the Cardinals, plus Adrian Gonzalez of the
Padres, Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard of the
Phillies.

I just can’t stand the derby. It’s tedious. It’s repetitive. It gets
worse as it goes on because guys get tired. It’s just really not my cup
of tea. But worst of all, it features Chris Berman calling each and
every shot, and that’s ninth circle of hell stuff. This year even more
so, because I recently discovered that, in addition to being annoying,
his “back, back, back” business is both (a) stolen; and (b) wrong. I read this last week while doing some research on fabled Dodgers and Yankees broadcaster Red Barber:

A number of play-by-play announcers, including Chris Berman, picked
up on his use of “back, back, back” to describe a long fly ball with
potential to be a home run. Oddly, those other announcers are
describing the flight of the ball, whereas Barber was describing the
outfielder, in this famous call from Game 6 of the 1947 World Series
with Joe DiMaggio at bat: “Here’s the pitch, swung on, belted… it’s a
long one… back goes Gionfriddo, back, back, back, back, back, back…
heeee makes a one-handed catch against the bullpen! Oh, Doctor!”

Which makes sense when you think about it because the ball, as far as
it’s concerned anyway, is going forward. It’s the outfielder who is
going back.

Either way, fine Berman, steal from Red Barber if you must. But at
least steal correctly. There are no outfielders making plays on the
ball at the Home Run Derby, so there shouldn’t be any “back, back,
backs.” If you agree to drop that tired, stolen and inaccurate shtick,
I’ll agree to watch your little exhibition. Deal?

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