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Are you ready for the excitement of the Home Run Derby?

Jul 11, 2011, 11:00 AM EST

American League All-Star Ortiz poses with the trophy after winning Major League Baseball's Home Run Derby in Anaheim

I’ll spare you all of my grousing about the Home Run Derby. Some people like it. Some people don’t. If you’re in the former camp, mazel tov. If you’re in the latter, may I suggest that you watch “Batman: Under the Red Hood,” which is streaming on Netflix?  I watched that on Saturday and was really impressed with it.  If neither of those things are to your liking, feel free to spend this evening writing letters to Major League Baseball, petitioning them to move the Futures Game to Monday night when some people will actually watch it.

That aside, we have a Home Run Derby tonight. They went with team captains picking the participants this year, with David Ortiz for the American League and Prince Fielder for the National League. The field breaks down like so:

American League: Ortiz, Adrian GonzalezJose Bautista and Robinson Cano.

National League: Fielder, Rickie WeeksMatt Kemp and Matt Holliday.

You have to like the Americans here, simply for the presence of Bautista and former champ Ortiz.  Oddsmakers — because for some damn reason people actually bet on this stuff — like the AL squad too, with Bautista and Ortiz holding the best odds of winning the thing. But you can’t count out Prince Fielder given that he is, after all, a former Derby champ himself.

I have to say that I agree with what a lot of people are saying, however, in that it would have been fun to see some batting practice freaks in this thing. Jayson Stark has a column on it today, and he makes a good case for guys like Wily Mo Pena — who had national writers lobbying for his inclusion — Mike Stanton and even Bryce Harper to get involved. Guys whose trouble with same-handed pitchers and difficulty with offspeed junk would not have been a problem for them in the Derby setting. Pure power. Shock and awe.  Would have been a lot of fun.

Screw it, I won’t spare you the entirety of my grousing. Indeed, the best ever complaint about the Home Run Derby — voiced by Will Leitch four years ago — still holds true: “Why does an event that has eight participants require nine people to cover it?”

With that in mind, as you’re watching it this evening, listening to Chris Berman and his back-backs and listening to all of the former jocks say “man, he really hit that one!”  ask yourself: is this more about baseball, or is it more about TV, money, selling ads and killing time?

  1. yankeesfanlen - Jul 11, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    The Home Run Derby should include Yankees, for Yankees, and by Yankees within the regular season, in Yankee Stadium. So far…so good.

    • seanmk - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:38 PM

      maybe if they all didn’t pull out of the all star game you’d have a point to include them

    • Old Gator - Jul 11, 2011 at 5:17 PM

      Oh boy, I can…hardly….wai….zzzzzzzzzzzzz

  2. APBA Guy - Jul 11, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    I wouldn’t mind seeing an edited version, one that goes for an hour and features the really long shots. When I was very young, Notre Dame would produce an hour long version of it’s Saturday football games that would air on Sunday morning. My brother and I would watch them right after we got back from church. Whenever nothing was going on, it would be edited out and the game would resume with “And on to further action…”. The derby could do the same.

    Of course, since this exhibition is really about money, it’s become bloated and boring.

    • uuddlrlrbastart - Jul 11, 2011 at 7:02 PM

      That’s how it was in the mid-90s. It took place during the day and was edited and aired the same night. Took an hour and a half. And there weren’t random people hoping to win a house or sideline interviews after each batter. I mean, baseball interviews are boring enough, what is there to possibly ask about (and who could possibly care) after someone hits 10 home runs?

      • uuddlrlrbastart - Jul 11, 2011 at 8:03 PM

        Oh! And the unnecessary opening concert.

        I really don’t understand. Who at ESPN decided that people who were tuning into the home run derby wanted to see anything other than players hitting home runs?

  3. bigxrob - Jul 11, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    Does anyone actually like listening to Berman?

    • Utley's Hair - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:02 PM

      Chris Berman.

    • deathmonkey41 - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:14 PM

      Chris Berman makes anything unwatchable. They should keep him to just broadcasting soccer games because if you’re not already bored by the game, you shouldn’t be affected by his dribble.

  4. kopy - Jul 11, 2011 at 11:19 AM

    If you call it by its true name, the State Farm Home Run Derby, the question becomes more obvious.

  5. Ducky Medwick - Jul 11, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    Baseball has always been about killing time, no?

    • Ducky Medwick - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:21 PM

      I must be mistaken and thinking of another sport that’s known as the national pastime.

  6. b7p19 - Jul 11, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    Come on Craig. We all realize the Derby is long, boring, and just plain uninteresting. It’s also, however, just the opening act of the evening. The celebrity softball game is the real attraction.

  7. sdelmonte - Jul 11, 2011 at 11:30 AM

    1. I like the Home Run Derby, but in part because my brother and I found reruns of the very old TV show on early ESPN to oddly appealing. Seeing players from before our time let loose in the old LA Wrigley Field was kinda cool. And then inspired by the show, we would take specific 1987 Strat-O-Matic cards and conduct our own Home Run Derby show. Rob Deer (homers, outs or walks, nothing else) vs rookie Mark McGwire was my favorite.

    2. It still beats the increasing artificiality of the NBA slam dunk contest, but loses out big time to the 3 point contest and to the skills contests the NHL used to run.

    3. Yeah, Under the Red Hood was a lot better than it had any business being. The comic it was based on was not so great. And written by the same man who wrote the film. And yet, it was really a fun Batman adventure. But that is a geek-out for another time. (They also have all of the Star Trek shows except DS9 on Netflix, too.)

    • kopy - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:10 PM

      I’m pretty sure the whole TV series from the 60s is on Hulu.com for free. I watched Killebrew beat Mantle in an episode on there the day Killebrew passed away.

  8. savocabol1 - Jul 11, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    Home run derby is no longer appealing to me. To little kids I am sure this is fun to watch. If one of the guys from my team was on it I would watch it.

    The only reason I am watching the all-star game is to watch the players on my team. This game is not truly an all-star game when you have third alternates being in the starting lineup due to people dropping out.

    • Lukehart80 - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:29 PM

      Except of course when the alternates are better than the guys voted into the starting line-up.

      Um… not that that happened this year.

      • savocabol1 - Jul 11, 2011 at 3:57 PM

        Gotta love when you let the fans vote. I wonder how many yankees would be on the the All Star team if they left it up to baseball writers, players, and managers?

  9. skipperxc - Jul 11, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    I like the derby. I’d prefer a skills competition — spray hitting competition, fastest first-to-third, fastest catch-and-throw from the hole at short, quickest turn of the DP at second, best throw from right field to the plate, that sort of thing — but I’m okay with this as a spectacle.

  10. chadh88 - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    I actually like the derby, though it is too long. I admittedly pay more attention to it when my team has a guy in it. It will be interesting to see if Holliday actually performs this year. He puts on an impressive BP.

  11. deathmonkey41 - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    I believe David Ortiz will be “ready” for the HR derby…(wink, wink, nod, nod)

    • Panda Claus - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:28 PM

      If Ortiz’ Derby pitcher throws it too close inside, or heaven help us all–behind him, will Papi charge the mound? That would be awkward.

  12. seanmk - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    much like joe buck and tim mccarver the home run derby is not for the avid fan, it’s for the casual viewer. you are probably going to watch it regardless of it being watchable or not

  13. FC - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    Batman…. Home Run Derby… Batman… Home Run Derby… meh, I’m going to the U2 Concert tonight.

  14. thelucasjj - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    I enjoy the home run derby, but more for the centralized event it provides rather than what actually happens. I am in Jacksonville FL so there is no home team or one baseball event that me and my friends all are interested in seeing. So every year me and a group of friends get together as some sportd bsr to watch the derby. It gives us a reason for all of us to gather for baseball and creates a good atmosphere for talking about the current season, and what we want or expect for the 2nd half.

    • Utley's Hair - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:35 PM

      “So every year me and a group of friends get together as some sportd bsr to watch the derby.”

      Are you there already? :P

      • jimbo1949 - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:46 PM

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      • thelucasjj - Jul 11, 2011 at 2:45 PM

        My bad use of the Android keyboard is to blame, not the bar. Again showing the the bar and beer is never the one at fault.

      • thelucasjj - Jul 11, 2011 at 2:49 PM

        AHHH! Screwed up again. This wouldn’t happen if my work would unblock sports and I didn’t have to browse through my phone. I don’t understand how they view my reading of HBT as non-accounting related. There are numbers, and really that is all accounting is.

  15. marshmallowsnake - Jul 11, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    Watching it live, with no Berman… = greatness! I will be there :)

  16. ballsout1950 - Jul 11, 2011 at 6:40 PM

    I might enjoy it if Big Pappi would stuff a bat in Berman’s mouth.

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