The Home Run Derby, Dull and Perfectly So

I watch the All Star Home Run Derby every year. I’m not afraid to admit it.

If you are a hardcore, pitch by pitch, tweet every homer and strikeout kind of fan, you should watch it too. I say the because it is dull, and without tension. In the middle of a baseball season that is truly a marathon effort, fans often see the season as 162 wind sprints. It can be exhausting biting your nails at the end of every game. Its seems like hardly two or three games go by before “That was a tough loss to take.” appears on my Twitter timeline, or in a conversation with a friend. They are all tough. There are almost always going to be around seventy tough nights in six months.

The players get a break. You should take one too. There’s nothing at stake, no big penalties, little risk of injury. There’s just a bunch of dingers. One time, there were more dingers than anybody thought possible, and I was there for all of them.

What a thing, that was, an even though he didn’t win the derby, that was Josh Hamilton’s coming out party. Without that moment in old Yankee Stadium, I would not look at him the same way.

If you are not a big fan, you should watch too. For two reasons. The first reason, is that the simplest, most devastating part of baseball has been extracted from the sometimes confusing ebb and flow of the game. No hit and runs, no balk rule, no tagging up on a fly balls. Just dingers. Lots of long bombs and towering drives. No explanation required after the first 5 minutes.

The second reason is that you might get to know how a player or two likes to have fun. He might bring his kids with him, he might joke around with his teammates, or with the media. Baseball is a game where there is no equipment to protect the face. We see hard stares and jutting chins all the time. The home runs derby reminds us that these men are fathers and sons, and they must take their failures home, as well as their triumphs.

Last year Robinson Cano brought his father to pitch to him. It is not often that a son can show the world that he trusts his father and wants him nearby, even when all grown up. Cano got that chance, and he took full advantage. When he won the big trophy, his parents took their opportunity to do what good parents do, they told the world they were proud of him, and that they loved him.

Also, possibly, to try to embarrass him as much as possible.

The Home Run Derby, long drives and baseball players who are more than lines of numbers on the screen. Easy going, just the way I like it.

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