In 1985 when the Home Run Derby first started during the All-Star Break there were only a few superstar players who could launch monstrous bombs from one stadium to the next. Watching Dave Parker and Mike Schmidt hit home runs was exciting. It was kind of like that new car you bring home and get all excited about. At this point, that new car has 90,000 miles on it, you can't even remember what the 'new car smell' smelled like and there are Burger King wrappers all over the floor board.
The Home Run Derby during the All-Star Break is way past its prime. Back in the day, not too many guys could knock the ball out of the ballpark consistently and it made the Derby, and home runs themselves, a lot of fun. Fast forward to 2007, and nearly every player can do that. I even saw Mike Fontenot hit one out of Wrigley Field the other week. The Home Run has lost its edge and so has the Home Run Derby. I was so psyched up for the Home Run Derby in San Francisco this year that I didn't even watch it. I'm actually writing this while the competition is going on! There is nothing special about watching some guy hit the ball 400+ feet. Nearly every player in baseball can do it, and if you gave me two weeks to prepare with a wooden bat.....I think I could too.
All of that being said, MLB needs to change up its All-Star Break activities. The Futures Game is good, we can leave that; but the rest (whatever the rest is) need to go. Here is what I want to see next year.
Second Base to Home Plate Racing -I want to see Carl Crawford and Jimmy Rollins battle it out to see who can get from second base to home plate the quickest. It's one thing to be the fastest guy in a 40 yd dash, it's another to be the quickest from second to home on a single.
Catcher Throwing Accuracy, with Quickness -The stolen base is coming back into style and I want to see which catchers have the best accuracy. It's not all about the accuracy though. We'll time to see who can get the ball out of his hand the quickest and add/deduct time based on that. Let's get Pudge Rodriguez out there against Russell Martin and see if the torch gets passed down.
Throw from Right Field to Third Base -Let's see who has the best arm in all of MLB. Throw Vlad Guerrero out there against Ichiro and see who can throw the best laser to third base.
Quickest Turn Competition -We don't want to leave the middle infielders out, so let's see who has the quickest hands at turning the double play. Want to find out who the best shortstop is in New York City? Throw Derek Jeter and Jose Reyes out there and we'll begin to see.
All MLB has to do is give $10,000 to the winner and a nice little trophy. Athletes are egomaniacs, so I can guarantee they'll be all over these competitions. You don't think the fans will have fun watching guys make throws and running bases??? You are wrong. Also, this is a good way to get younger players involved in the All-Star Activities since only a select few power hitters are involved in the Home Run Derby. The NFL and NBA have their own variations of these activities and it's time for MLB to do the same.
You can contact Jack Cobra by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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