Three Ways To Improve The Home Run Derby
By: Jamie Samuelsen
If you’re like me, you’ll spend about an hour tonight watching the Home Run Derby from Kansas City. Sure, it’s exciting at the start. But after about an hour, it gets really old and really repetitive. My eyes start to glaze over after I hear Chris Berman say, “Back, Back, Back, Back,” for the 36th time.
So here are three ideas to make this annual event just a little more tolerable.
1) Dump Berman – Sure, it’s an easy one. And he’s an easy target. But his home run calls have become so stale that they actually detract from the event. The long balls are impressive. The overreaction is forced. Give it to play-by-play man Dan Shulman or Baseball Tonight anchor Karl Ravech and the event improves right away.
2) End it After the First Round – In 2008, the Rangers Josh Hamilton hit 28 home runs in the first round – and didn’t win the contest (Justin Morneau did). In 2003, Jason Giambi hit 12 homers in the first round and Albert Pujols hit 14 in the second round…and Garrett Anderson won it even though he never even hit double digits in any round. Translation – nothing matters past the first round. And very few people are watching after the first round. Let each hitter take their hacks and then be done with it.
3) Go Retro – When I was a kid, ESPN used to air “Home Run Derby” in the afternoons. You got to see Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle and Duke Snider compete in a nine-inning “game” to decide who the winner was. When one player was hitting, the other one would sit with the host and chat about baseball and hitting. It was all very quaint and the conversation was awkward. But maybe it would be a nice, new twist on what’s become a tired contest.