Right up front, I don’t enjoy the Home Run Derby. I find it rather boring, lacking a certain level of competitiveness that I associate with baseball.
But to be honest, just because I don’t like it does not make it a bad thing.* There is a buzz around it. A noticeable buzz. While surprising to me, one has to appreciate when something creates a buzz for baseball, right?
*Yes, unlike some folks that like to jibber-jabber about baseball, my personal preference about something does not specifically mean it is bad.
But I want to like the Home Run Derby. So, here are two thoughts of mine of what to change:
I will talked about, until I can’t talk any more, the need for Duane Kuiper and Steve Stone to do the announcing. There is a fun bit of irony there that lets people know baseball doesn’t always have to take itself so seriously. Kuiper is a good announcer in his own right, and Stone is going to be better than just about anybody ESPN would put behind the microphone.
But a Kuiper/Stone combo would have a limited appeal, I understand that. It is easy to fix though. Invite radio and TV announcers from different teams to take a turn calling parts of the derby. Sprinkle in a few ex-players who are currently in announcing to provide color commentary and let them talk about famous home runs they hit or gave up. There are enough announcers to make this a rotational setup and keep things fresh.
Spread the field out a little more by including prospects. Why not have a minor leaguer battling the boys in the bigs? This would allow many fans more of an opportunity to see some of the talent in the pipeline than the Futures Game. It would also spark some competitiveness.
Why not make it a three team competition, including the retired players that might want to take part? The Future, The Present, The Past. Imagine a final round of David Ortiz, Bryce Harper, and Ken Griffey, Jr.
Even if you have only two teams, make each have to include a minor league player and a retired one. There will be a added sense of excitement.