Tonight, the best and brightest power hitters in the game will gather to re-enact this seminal moment from my childhood:
I joked about this the other day, but seriously. This is exactly why I love the Derby. I loved hitting dingers as far as I could in Ken Griffey Baseball (575 feet!!!), and I loved watching the old Derby replays they aired during the day on ESPN, back before they filled their hours with Skip Bayless yelling at people (and PTI).
But, I get the sense that most people are sort of over the Derby. For instance, Craig Calcaterra talks about ways to change the Derby here:
So, like many have advocated, I advocate for the end of the Home Run Derby and its replacement with something that is not only more interesting, but which better reflects our age. A skills competition is the most obvious example. A decathlon-esque competition. Or fewer skills; pick the Greek prefix which best fits. The point is to find the player with the best all-around skills. Some ideas of what it could consist of:
A greatly abbreviated Home Run Derby to get at power;
A first-to-third or insider-the-park-homer competition that gets at baserunning. Something that doesn't just get at raw speed but which also factors in how you cut the corner at the base and how well you slide;
A throwing thing where outfielders fire balls toward a target, Tom Emansky-style, from right or left field to home plate. For infielders, something with a relay throw, perhaps;
A gap-ball contest. Set up one of those automatic fly ball machines they use in spring training to fire fly balls farther and father from a set position on which the fielder sets up. Whoever can run down balls farther from that position is the winner.
Something for catchers. We don't want to kill them so maybe we don't do a block-the-ball-in-the-dirt drill, but maybe a thing in which speed and accuracy of firing the ball down to second base is used.
I love the idea of a skills contest. In fact, making that first night like the NBA's All-Star Saturday Night would be wonderful. Though, I think I will mis the Derby if it ever goes away.
At any rate, here's the place to talk about it if you're watching. Someone keep a tally on Puig bat flips, please, I'll be watching Little League instead.