The HR Derby Needs to Change

So, Robinson Cano won the 2011 Home Run Derby. Big deal.

Cano, looking hot.

The Home Run Derby has lost its luster.

Way back when, when guys like Harmon Killebrew and Hank Aaron and Willie Mays participated in the year-end Home Run Derby, a show that lasted 26 episodes, it was fun to watch. Those guys cared.

Now? Eh.

The prelude to All-Star Games certainly isn’t that much fun anymore. The dunk contest? The skills competition? Monday night? Blech.

Could you imagine paying $2,300 for three seats, as one fool was asking on ebay? Egads.

The Home Run Derby is glorified BP (batting practice). That’s it. You want to watch someone hit a bunch of balls hard, go to the local batting cage and get a beer there. It’s much cheaper and probably more fun.

Sure, there a moments like the one here where Josh Hamilton went nuts in 2008.

But those are few and far between.

Here’s what needs to happen for the HR Derby to be fun, successful and interesting to watch – in person and on TV (aside from taking the mic away from Chris Berman, who is insufferable):

  • Pick two players from each league, either the top two home run hitters – whether they are All-Stars or not – or the top two All-Stars with the most home runs.
  • Have those two players then pick three additional athletes from the other major professional sports (sorry D-League and Arena Football) and go with a team of five.
  • The five-man team with the most homers wins.

Now, tell me you wouldn’t want to watch someone like Chad Ochocinco swing a bat? Or John Daly, with a heater in his mouth and a beer rather than Gatorade waiting for him outside the batter’s box? Or, perhaps, Sidney Crosby, who hit a home run during BP with the Pirates earlier this year?

The two AL and NL players could do a draft the weekend before the derby, then ESPN could show the top HR hitters sharing tips in the cages to these guys. Hell, have them hit from second base just to get it over the wall. The team with the most HR’s wins and some charity wins on their behalf.

It would be far better than what we have now.

When the highlight of Monday night is some clown catching a home run in the gimmicky pool at Chase Field, then you know it’s a poor showing.

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