North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

Thoughts on the Derby ’06

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Another July, another home run derby – and yet again, my picks are spectacularly off base. Since my track record is so impossibly bad – I’m talking like “Lions will win Superbowl XLI” bad – I didn’t even bother posting them. Hell, I’m actually almost as embarrassed as I was last year.

That was something else, though – choosing Jason Bay. Jeez, he wasn’t even able to get one home run. And my pick this year – er, Troy Glaus – only managed to get one more this time then Jason did this time (and Jason didn’t even take part).

Sure, I also liked Ortiz, but even he didn’t make it past the second round. And, actually, neither did I. I only know who won thanks to ESPN Radio, which managed to tell me something like 12 times last night, when I was trying to get some sleep.

So, then – why does anybody care about the home run derby?

The biggest home run names (Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez, Ken Griffey Jr, Albert Pujols) don’t take part in it. Watching someone who you barely know hit home runs after the other – and watching them take something like 40 passed balls while they’re at it – isn’t exciting. The announcers don’t even call half of the home runs. It’s like watching Batting Practice on the YES network.

I think half of the thrill is that the players are so into it – where else, with maybe the exception of the slam-dunk contest, do you see all the all-stars sitting around, watching (and in a few cases, taping) the contest? It’s almost like a showcase of their human side – sure, Ortiz is a powerful guy at the plate, but how often do we see him hanging around, joking with friends? I actually found that watching the players generally be themselves was more of an attraction then the derby itself.

Another is the fans. Remember that guy who caught the NFL game ball after a field goal a few years back? The one who jumped off a ledge to get to it? Now multiply that by 30. And with 20 different people.

Take last night, for example. Whenever a ball – and it was more then a few – was knocked outside the stadium and into the river, crowds of people in boats would all make a wild dash to the ball – which, more often then not, involved groups of people almost fighting in water. And it happened every time, too – it didn’t matter who hit the ball, really – as soon as it got in the water, everybody was going after it. And it was funny, in it’s own way.

Does the derby need to be improved? Sure – you could have to vote with one person from each position, maybe (and who wouldn’t want to see a pitcher in a derby?) or you could work in a pitch count (to cut down on the passed balls). But either way, the home runs themselves aren’t the attraction anymore – at least to me.

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Written by M.

July 11, 2006 at 5:22 pm

Posted in horse racing

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