When I was younger, I very much looked forward to the annual Home Run Derby that was conducted on the night before the All-Star Game. Back then it was fun to watch but now…. ugh! For the most part, the actual competition was ok. Corey Hart had a great 1st Round, Hanley Ramirez was very impressive, and David Ortiz closed the night with a great Championship Round performance. But the broadcast was horrendous. Let’s break down the 3 antagonists.
1. Chris Berman – Ok, I know the guy is one of ESPN’s originals but I think it is high time that the powers that be at the “Boo Yeah Network” put Berman out to pasture. Every year, this show is the exact same thing. I honestly feel that I could make an audio recording of any given year and insert a local suburb into his “That ball is all the way to (insert city here)” line and I would get the same experience. And did anyone else get the feeling that he made out a list of the towns he was going to use and was just waiting anxiously to use one? He sure sounded happy yelling “That one is heading to San Juan Capistrano” on a ball that landed in the bullpen.
2. Joe Morgan – Really, I don’t know if much can be said for Mr. Morgan. ESPN should have taken him off the air a long time ago, yet he continues to be part of all their big broadcasts. I’ve never heard an announcer that is quite the combination of ridiculously biased, wrong about most things, and switches his allegiances as much as Morgan.
3. Bobby Valentine – Who is the genius at ESPN that thought putting Bobby V on the air was a good idea? Every time I see him on TV he seems uncomfortable. Last night when he called David Ortiz by “Jose”, I thought I was going to fall off the step ladder I was on. Note to ESPN (and any other network) – just because someone worked in baseball or played baseball, they aren’t necessarily TV material.
On the Derby itself, I think it is time for MLB to think about retooling the event. It is clear now that the players are somewhat hesitant to get into the derby due to it being so physically taxing. Here is what I suggest (MLB can pay me royalties if they use the idea):
- 8 MLB players are paired with one of their teams’ Minor League prospects (ex. Hanley Ramirez and Logan Morrison)
- MLB player gets 10 outs / MiLB player get 7 outs
- Each “team” goes through just one time.
- In event of a tie, the tied teams go to a tiebreaker
The current Derby takes WAYYYY too long with the multiple rounds. While my format comes out to roughly the same amount of “out swings”, I think the pace would be much quicker. I also think the fans would be more into it since it would be teams competing instead of just individual players….so you’d get the Red Sox versus the Marlins in the final. Just a thought.