The Derby

OK, now can you see why Barry Bonds begged out of the Home Run Derby?

As you surely know by now, the Angels’ Vladimir Guerrero won the thing for the first time in his magnificent career. But to me what made it really impressive were not some of the majestic blasts he hit, but rather, the fact that he endured through more than three hours of the event to win.

That’s just flat-out too long for everybody. Too long for the players. Too long for the fans who want to watch the whole thing. Too long for the quality of the event. And ultimately, like he said, too long to expect an older guy like Bonds to participate willingly. Don’t know if the fans will forgive him after watching the tedium that is three hours of watching batting practice home runs, but if you can’t understand where Bonds was coming from now, you simply don’t get it.

Anyway, Guerrero needed to hit only three home runs in the final round, because the other finalist, Toronto’s Alex Rios simply ran out of gas. Rios, by the way, is 17 years younger than Bonds.

Here’s how I would tinker with the Derby to make it more fun, and a lot livelier in the final round. You still can take eight participants, but limit the first round to 3 outs. Increase that number to 5 outs for the second round. Then go up to 10 outs in the final round. That way, guys will be likely to get locked in during the final round, and that could make for some compelling viewing. As it is now, most of the participants go nuts in Round 2, and then have nothing left for the final.

Also was wondering. Does winning a Home Run Derby add to a guy’s star credentials? I’d argue that it does. Not that guys such as Guerrero and 2006 champ Ryan Howard weren’t stars before winning the Derby. But by winning the event, they kind of cement their standing in the upper tier of the game. Just my feeling. I could be completely off base.