Memo to home run derby hitters: Swing the bat |

Memo to home run derby hitters: Swing the bat

After Monday nightand#8217;s snail-paced slugging contest, Major League Baseball ought to change the name of its Home Run Derby to something more fitting.

Home Run Ultramarathon seems more appropriate. Or Take-a-Pitch Derby. Or, more accurate yet, Take-Pitch-after-Pitch-after-Pitch Derby and#8212; also known as the Bore-a-Fan-to-Sleep contest.

Seriously. That had to have been the pickiest group of home run hitters in the history of the derby. Swing the bat! And more often than once every eight pitches.

Granted, the pitchers misfired on occasion from their drawn-in position between the mound and home plate. And strategy is to be expected in any competition, including, in this instance, not swinging at bad pitches.

But the best sluggers in the game took that strategy to the extreme Monday night in St. Louis, often watching multiple pitches sail by between each and every swing and#8212; quality, meatball pitches, too.

You half expected a pitcher and#8212; his arm hanging ragged after a complete gameand#8217;s worth of pitches and#8212; to get fed up with the nonsense and zip a high hard one under a choosy hitterand#8217;s nose. and#8220;Sniff at that.and#8221;

Eventually, it came to an end when Prince Fielder blasted six home runs to Nelson Cruzand#8217;s five in the final to take the 2009 crown. Another round and the 2009 derby would have overlapped into 2010.


While Major League Baseball is busy thinking up a new name for its Home Run Derby, it could start brainstorming a new plan for its All-Star Game selection process.

Or at the least the Sprint Final Vote portion, which allows fans to determine the final American League and National League roster spots among five candidates on each side. Fans had from the moment the All-Star Selection Show ended July 5 until July 9 to cast as many votes as their hearts desired.

Great. The players with the most compulsive fans win the final spots, all while their teams conduct in-your-face, vote-for-our-boy campaigns that grow more annoying by the day.

Before that final popularity contest, MLB allows its fans to vote in the 16 starting position players. That vote concluded July 2 and#8212; nearly two weeks before the game itself and#8212; and started sometime in May. Not June. May.

Under that system, even the most knowledgeable fans are susceptible to picking duds, because playersand#8217; stats in May do not reflect the entire first half. A guy hitting .400 through May could tank the entire month of June and wind up undeserving of an All-Star appearance.

So why allow the fans to vote so early? For that matter, why allow them to vote at all? The players and managers know best. You think Joe East Coast fan stays up late enough to notice, or even cares to notice, if a Giant or Dodger, Padre or Rocky, is outhitting his David Wright?

and#8212; Sylas Wright is the sports editor at the Sierra Sun. He may be reached at

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