Monday, July 14, 2008

Home Run Derby Lacks All-Star Power

Tonight's Home Run Derby has a couple of Floridian interests, which is good for us. But for national viewers, there isn't much to be excited about. The line-up includes Florida Marlins slugger Dan Uggla and Tampa Bay Rays rookie Evan Longoria. Longoria was the "final vote" winner and was the last player added to the All-Star roster. Uggla is tied for 4th in the NL with 23 homers on the season.

The other participants in the dinger derby are Lance Berkman, Chase Utley, and Ryan Braun fro the NL, and Josh Hamilton, Justin Morneau, and Grady Sizemore for the American League. While all these players are having nice seasons, but they aren't reminiscent of the great mashers that are usually seen in this contest. We won't have a slug-off like we saw with Griffey vs. McGwire in Fenway Park. No Pujols or Giambi. The Yankees tried to get Alex Rodriguez to participate, but he declined. The defending champ, Vlad Guerrero, said he was going to be in it, and yet he's not. The top 2 HR hitters (Ryan Howard and Adam Dunn) this season didn't make it to New York, so they aren't in it. The only returner from last season's derby is Justin Morneau. This year's lineup just doesn't have that "it" factor that usually comes with this event.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. There will be 6 first-timers in the game tonight, including a true rookie (Evan Longoria) who wasn't even in the Bigs until the 2nd week of the season. Josh Hamilton's personal story is incredibly inspirational. Grady Sizemore is a leadoff hitter who also leads the American League in home runs. There are great stories here, just not the ones you might expect at a Home Run Derby. Is it the beginning of a post-steroid era? Are more superstars passing up on the event because of the fear that it might "ruin their swing"? Personally, I never understood how a 2 hour event could mess up something you've been perfecting since you were 8 years old in little league, but apparently it happens.

In any case, there is sure to be a show tonight. You just might not recognize the starting cast.

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