New Home Run Derby format a grand slam for Major League Baseball
With the clock, more swings and less time, the new Home Run Derby format breathed new life into the event. In fact, I'm calling it the best Derby ever.
CINCINNATI -- The new format for the Home Run Derby was -- pardon the pun -- a grand slam. In fact, I'm gonna go grandiose here and say it: That was the best Home Run Derby ever.
With each hitter now on the clock for four minutes with the ability to earn bonus time based upon distance, the Home Run Derby is officially back as a must-see event.
Some questioned using a clock during a baseball event, but it ended up breathing life into an event that badly needed to be re-invented. For years, the event has dragged on, sometimes upward of three hours or even more. Perhaps even worse, the trend in recent years became hitters taking pitch after pitch after pitch, sometimes only swinging at one of every five or six pitches. The Home Run Derby is supposed to be a fun and exciting experience for the fans. Watching players take five pitches in a row is anything but those things.
With the clock, we got significantly more swings, significantly more home runs and, yes, significantly more drama. It was action packed.
Again, having a hometown hero like Reds third baseman Todd Frazier put on a show certainly helped the Cincinnati fans remain energized throughout the event, but the energy was there for every hitter, never once relenting for an extended period of time. Even without a hometown player in the finals, the new rules have effectively saved an event that desperately needed saving.
Think about all those times in recent years we saw hitters come away with one or even zero home runs. That's a bit embarrassing and feels like wasted time. Monday, Kris Bryant hit nine home runs, and he ended up with the lowest total of the night.
The timeout seems like a good touch, too, but what if the players started holding the timeout in case they needed it to beat the clock (hat-tip to Joe Sheehan here). In the semifinals, Albert Pujols was one home run shy of Joc Pederson and the buzzer went off just before one final pitch was thrown. As exciting as the event was Monday night, imagine the fun factor of Pujols taking a timeout and then coming back with one swing to hit a home run?
We did see a few buzzer-beaters, though, from Pujols and Frazier. And, of course, the virtual "walk-off" winner for Frazier was the cherry on top:
Once the dust had settled, we had seen the birth of a new format that should last years. The hitters put on a great show, the fans were energized and an event has been totally resurrected.
We have a winner here, Major League Baseball, in the form of the best Home Run Derby of all-time.
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