Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Thoughts on the Home Run Derby


By
Image courtesy of Daylife via Getty Images
The 2011 edition of the Home Run Derby wasn't quite Jose Bautista's coming out party, but I think a lot of folks south of the border took notice of the Blue Jays slugger.

As the Major League home run leader, Bautista was the odds-on favourite to capture the Home Run Derby title, instead he failed to escape the first round as he watches his teammates put on a show.

This was Jose's first trip to the Derby, and for his first appearance I'd say he fared okay. Typically, he's not used to having 50,000 fans and hundreds of cameras during an ordinary batting practice, so that can take some getting used to.

Also, for those hitting in later rounds, sometimes you're sitting for an hour or an hour and a half before coming back up to the plate once again. That can't be very conducive for hitting lots of home runs.

I don't doubt this will be the last time we see Jose Bautista in the Home Run Derby, and besides ... that means he won't suffer from the dreaded Home Run Derby curse now anyway!

Derby Overdose

Dustin made a very good point during the Getting Blanked Home Run Derby liveblog, the Derby is something that's better suited to be on in the background and not in the forefront.

I myself found the liveblog to be more entertaining than the Home Run Derby itself, as the prospect of signing Prince Fielder sparked a good debate amongst the commenters.

The Derby just gets really old fast, and Chris Berman doesn't exactly help. I'd be more than happy to see the Home Run Derby cut down to a 2 hour broadcast rather than a 3 hour plus event.

Even if they took out the first round and only had 4 hitters from each league, I don't think people would mind so long as it cut down on time. Unfortunately, it's all about the benjamins and sponsor time, so there's no way that will ever happen.

The Highlight of the Home Run Derby

For me, the highlight of the entire Home Run Derby was this amazing catch by a fan by the pool. Not only does he manage to hang onto the ball while in the pool, he keeps his beer above the water the entire time!

Luckily his beer afloat was rescued by bikini-clad women as he tried to gain his balance and rise back from the water. Somebody sign this guy to a contract in centre field, ASAP.

7 comments:

  1. Ian,
    What is missing from this event is that baseball is only interesting when a batter is competing against a pitcher (or when a runner is competing against a thrower). Otherwise, it is boring as hell. You can't get excited about a pitcher who is trying to serve up a homerun - it's just not entertaining. In fact, it's wholly monotonous.

    I'm pretty sure that what I saw last night was what baseball looks like generally to people who don't like it:

    Slow, waiting, pitch ... slow waiting, pitch ... slow, waiting, pitch -BALL IN PLAY ... slow, waiting ...

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  2. QJays, you're right, it's kind of the nature of the game. In baseball, there's a lot of downtime and in turn the same applies to the Home Run Derby.

    Occasionally, I'll check out the NBA Slam Dunk competition, and usually it's pretty entertaining. I wonder if your occasional baseball watcher feels the same way about the Home Run Derby.

    Because I think if you ask most hardcore baseball watchers, they'll say the derby is way too long and way too drawn out. But to the average watcher, it might not seem so bad.

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  3. That's possible.
    I was thinking about the slam-dunk comp too -- which I haven't seen for years but which I used to find entertaining. Maybe if there was a trick to hitting the baseballs and a scoring system, it would help. I'm talking about doing a cartwheel into the batter's box and maintaining a perfect stork-stand while going opposite field -- or some such nonsense. Marginal points added based on distance, but opposite field would trump the distance value. That might be fun.

    Or maybe if the batters were timed -- "That's it Ortiz -- no glove adjustment / spit / slap BS!! You have 1 minute to hit as many homeruns as possible. Begin!" I could definitely go for some timed hitting competitions. Then there would be none of this letting 6 straight pitches in the strike-zone go by.

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  4. Well one issue is at times you are watching them waiting for the perfect pitch. I would like to point out with Bautista the jays bullpen catcher seemed to be more nervous than he, because the pitches he was giving Bautista was not in the sweetspot. He was often going to far outside or to low.

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  5. QJays, I like the idea of a point system ... like points for going opposite field, longest shot, most hit in 30/60 seconds, etc. That would definitely keep me interested a little longer than the current format.

    Psmith, not to be overly critical of the bullpen catcher, but it looked like Jose wasn't quite getting the pitches where he wanted them. Then again, Jose has tons of experience in the cage "against" him.

    I find it funny how Adrian Gonzalez didn't have anybody to throw to him until about 20 minutes before the competition until Manny Acta stepped up. Maybe that's the way to go!

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  6. I found this year's derby to be the most exciting in a long while. It came down to the last swing of the bat, nobody truly ran away with the whole thing.

    It does get old quick though. Maybe they should have a 2 round competition with only 4 batters instead of 8. Maybe they could just have 4 guys take part in a 1 round competition where the winner takes all. Maybe if they shorten it enough they could add another skill competition, a lead off hitter foot race or something.

    My problem with the derby is that it goes too late on the east coast. I get up for work at 5:00 every morning. The derby was pushing 11:30 when it ended. I realize they start it at 8 to benefit the people on the west coast, but man does it ever make for a late night.

    -Anthony
    baseballnorth.mlblogs.com

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  7. Anthony, I'll give them that - at least it was a competition in the last round. I always think it's crazy when somebody like Josh Hamilton did what he did a few years ago in New York and he doesn't even win the Derby. I guess sometimes you just have to know when to quit and save it for the final round.

    I understand why they want to have it at 8:00pm in Primetime, but it could most certainly start at 7:00pm. Besides, it takes them 40 minutes to get underway anyway after all the songs, intros, etc.

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