By Nick Craddock
I’ll probably watch a smidge of tonight’s Home Run Derby. But only a smidge.
I love the longball during an actual game of baseball, but after seeing home run after home run during this pre-All Star Game festivity, my interest wanes as the event drags on and announcer Chris Berman keeps talking (or yelling?).
On the other hand, of all the four major sports in this country, the NBA and its Slam Dunk Contest has mastered the formula of the pre-All Star Game festivity, at least in terms of sustaining interest level throughout the course of the event, which the Derby fails to achieve.
The main problem with the Home Run Derby is that round one is usually the most entertaining, and then the rest of the event decreases in excitement as the players begin to lose some pop in their bats. Generally, when it comes to our entertainment, whether it be a movie, TV show or book, we want excitement to build following the beginning, otherwise the finish seems rather anti-climactic.
For example, in 2008 first-time All-Star Josh Hamilton slugged a record 28 home runs in round one, the marquee moment from that Derby which many baseball fans probably remember; how many recall that Justin Morneau eventually defeated a fatigued Hamilton for the crown that year? In fact, the player that wins round one often becomes less of a slugger and more sluggish in subsequent rounds and loses the event, even if he won the admiration of the fans in the ballpark.
If the players drank a vat of Gatorade in between rounds, they still couldn’t replenish enough electrolytes to get back to where they were for the beginning of round one.
However, take the Slam Dunk Contest and one will notice that the participants’ dunks, style and, creativity tends to increase as rounds progress. In round one, a player will perform a vanilla, yet nonetheless impressive, tomahawk jam and by the end of the night, Blake Griffin is dunking over a compact car.
Was the Griffin dunk the greatest ever seen? Not at all. But his showmanship sustained the interest of fans by saving what he deemed was the “best for last.”
At tonight’s Home Run Derby, the best will come first and mediocrity will come last.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.