Back, Back, Back, Gone!

By on July 11, 2013

 

The Prince is Royal! Detroit Tiger Prince Fielder is crowned 2012 Hoe Run Derby Champ in Kansas City with his son Jadyn and Haven (photo: Scott Rovak / USA TODAY Sports Images)

In every sport to be named a Pro-Bowler or an All-Star is among the highest of the regular season honors an athlete can achieve. Yet the exhibition games that feature the best of the best in sports are usually dull and unattractive compared to a competitive game.

 

No one wants to watch a glorified scrimmage where Kobe tries to earn his stolen honor back by shutting down LeBron. No one wants to see a 12-10 hockey game with no defense. I won’t even waste more than the 22 words that it took to construct this sentence to talk about the Pro Bowl. And who does the MLB think it’s kidding with the All-Star game deciding home field advantage in the World Series when fans can vote an unlimited number of times and EVERY team (even the projected 100-loss Houston Astros) is represented?

 

As boring as the respective All-Star games have become I am in love with the skills competitions: take the best part of every sport and do it repeatedly for two hours. YES! Who doesn’t want to see the sickest combination of moves Steven Stamkos, Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby can imagine? Who doesn’t want to see Chris Paul get through a dribble course in 30 seconds that most people would need GPS to navigate or threes on threes on threes? Who doesn’t want to see Blake Griffin DUNK OVER A CAR?! But for me the absolute best skills competition is the Home Run Derby.

 

Chicks dig the long ball and for one Monday night each July I turn into a 15-year-old fan girl for the Home Run Derby. I understand how tough it is to be that good of a hitter. I played baseball competitively for two years while I was in high school including AAU before having surgery. Don’t give me that pity, that allowed me to focus on school and end my irrational dream of baseball taking me anywhere other than practice/games between three and seven days a week for five months straight. Still, I loved the game and gave it all I had. I played defense, had a decent arm, was usually one of the fastest kids on the team and couldn’t hit to save my life (your prototypical 3-tool player). The closest I ever came to putting one out was off the top of a fence in dead center (damn Citrus Park double-fence).

 

So I can appreciate how hard it is to hit dingers. I wasn’t even hitting bombs in batting practice; I was practicing hitting the ball to deep short so I could leg out singles. To watch guys hit homer after homer on command still thrills me to this day. Now add the pressures of competition, 40,000 fans in the stands and the best hitters in the game and we’ve got a great time to be had.

 

The Derby isn’t what it used to be when Griffey, McGwire and Sosa (2/3 roided, I know) were slugging it out. It can’t recapture the glory days of Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle going at it in the weekly TV competition, “Home Run Derby”. Of course, it will NEVER live up to the immortal Triple Play Baseball Home Run Derby with a points system based on targets smashed by a miniature Griffey and McGwire in a typical 2001 living room.

The Derby is now a shell of itself, but I still love it. I love watching the two teams get after it and guys really trying their hardest to go deep; maybe the Derby should decide World Series home field advantage. I love watching to see how the nooks and crannies and short porches of each ballpark around the Majors change the event from year to year. If for nothing else I love to get to flip on ESPN Deportes and listen to Ernesto Jerez call homer after homer. I have no clue if Jerez calls the Home Run Derby, but I will be tuning in! Diganle que no a esa pelota!

Categories: Baseball, Sports
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