Sport A proposal to fix Olympic baseball: make it a home run derby

09:26  31 july  2021
09:26  31 july  2021 Source:   sports.yahoo.com

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This is not another column about how the unprecedented 2019 surge in home runs across baseball ruined the sport. It ’s not about how the record-breaking pace has rendered comparative statistics meaningless. It ’s not about how soft pop flies the other way sneaking over the fence fail to deliver the kind It ’s a leveling down of the difficulty and I don’t see why that would make it more exciting. I guess you could make the fences further or the associated pyrotechnics flashier or, and this is my personal proposal to spice up the derby , you could feature participants for whom going yard at all would be an

The 2019 Home Run Derby marked the centennial of the home run itself. Before Babe Ruth, home runs had existed; baseball folks had to call it something when a player got more than a triple. But before Ruth, no one tried for home runs ; they just happened, and seldom. Then Ruth hit 29 homers in Along the way, Ruth also invented something like a home run derby . When he was barnstorming across the country, fans would pack local grandstands to see him homer. All of the sport's regular rules and protocols went out the window: Local pitchers were given clear instructions to groove pitches, or

YOKOHAMA, Japan – The 60-game season Major League Baseball played in 2020 only barely felt like a worthwhile test for the top baseball talents on Earth. So a tournament that goes a maximum of six and looks like an old timer’s day crossed with the futures game, plus the best beer league players you’ve seen and some guys you didn’t realize were still playing overseas hardly feels like the pinnacle of sport.

That’s an inherent issue with Olympic baseball, which is back in the Summer Games along with softball this year after 13 years gone (but maybe not missed). After two Olympics as “demonstration” sport and five in which Team USA didn’t even always qualify, the IOC voted baseball and softball out of the Rings for being both too American — the softball squad had outscored their opponents 51-1 in the 2004 Games — and for not featuring any of the best America-based athletes.

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The Major League Baseball Home Run Derby is about to undergo one massive change. Chris Berman is taking a reduced role over at ESPN. GUS JOHNSON Who better to call the Home Run Derby than everyone’s favorite announcer: Joe Buck? Everyone loves him so much during the playoffs that you might as well just toss Buck straight into the Derby and watch as fans tune in to hear about how much he hates their favorite team’s player, the home runs that player hits and just joyful things in general.

The Home Run Derby is not the greatest All-Star event in sports. I used to like the Home Run Derby . I think. I'm relatively sure there was a time when I thought it was exciting, fun, and maybe even entertaining. Of course this was around the same time when I thought Captain Planet was the coolest super hero around and hadn't yet figured out that the teenagers who played the Power Rangers weren't actually the ones in the suits fighting.

“Baseball will go on just fine. It’s never depended in any way, shape or form even slightly on the Olympics,” Donald Fehr, then the MLBPA executive director, said of the decision.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for softball — which needs either the Olympics or for someone back in the states to make a serious commitment to financially investing in the growth of the game. (Which, for the record, they absolutely should.)

But that sentiment persists in baseball. Players on the 40-man rosters for MLB teams are not allowed to participate, and often GMs will block even their non-40-man prospects from leaving the system mid-season.

In other words, it’s a good thing Todd Frazier is here or else the collective MLB WAR of Team USA would be -1.

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People like to make fun of the Home Run Derby . You are one of those people. One dunk tank, in center field, possibly with Bud Selig in it . There are two ways to do it : a normal dunk tank with a target about the size of your fist, with some sort of million-dollar prize attached to hitting it , or a dunk tank with a target the size of a small scoreboard. There might be a company interested in sponsoring this idea, too.

Despite publicly expressing interest in participating in the 2019 Home Run Derby , Shohei Ohtani was not invited by Major League Baseball . (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images). If MLB is committed to growing the game intentionally, then they should be committed to featuring Ohtani every opportunity NEW YORK — The message was received. Yankees managing partner Hal Steinbrenner made it clear the reason the team is middling just above .500 is not because of the general manager, the manager or the coaching staff. It ’s the players who are underperforming. Aaron Judge said that was heard in the

In other other words, USA’s first Olympic game in over a decade on Friday night in Tokyo, when they blew out Team Israel 8-1, was certainly not bigger news back home than the Rays trading Diego Castillo to the Mariners. The country that cares the most about baseball doesn’t really care about Olympic baseball, and I don’t think you can blame that all on the time difference.

The baseball so far in Fukushima and Yokohama has been, in a word: mediocre. Sloppy, simple — quick! Can we keep the rule about staying in the batter's box? — and, despite some close scores, not especially well-balanced.

Maybe the owners and players could negotiate a break in the schedule big enough to allow baseball’s best to play in the Olympics. And maybe the players would even want to go if they could. The 2028 Los Angeles games are the best shot for something like that to happen if baseball/softball can get added back to the Summer slate.

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CLEVELAND — Put the home run aside for now, because it is not only the most likely way to score in baseball , but also the most Neanderthal, and it ’s eating the game alive. We know home runs are coming at a record pace, and that fact was Topic A, B and Z for the sport’s leaders and its best players during All-Star Game festivities here. The Nationals’ final game before the break is a perfect example, both of how the homer can make the game stale and how those dwindling plays can make it absolutely enthralling. On Sunday at Nationals Park, Washington took a 2-0 lead over the Kansas City Royals on

But maybe the better bet if baseball wants to showcase some of what makes the game so much fun on an Olympic level is to just export its most accessible, high-octane event.

Forget Olympic Baseball. What about: Olympic Home Run Derby?

a baseball player taking a swing at a ball: USA's Eric Filia slides safely to steal the second base as Israel's second baseman Ian Kinsler looks on. (Photo by KAZUHIRO FUJIHARA / AFP) (Photo by KAZUHIRO FUJIHARA/AFP via Getty Images) © Provided by Yahoo! Sports USA's Eric Filia slides safely to steal the second base as Israel's second baseman Ian Kinsler looks on. (Photo by KAZUHIRO FUJIHARA / AFP) (Photo by KAZUHIRO FUJIHARA/AFP via Getty Images)

The biggest advantage: Every year we host a single-day Home Run Derby and crown a legitimate champion. Even if an Olympic-worthy field was spread over two or three days, it could fit inside the existing All-Star break or a more acceptable absence from the season. Some stars might not show, just as is the case with the current derby, but it’s already proven to be a worthwhile endeavor for some players who want the kind of good-for-the-game glory that comes from doing big dingers on an even bigger stage.

It would look, well, a lot like the existing Home Run Derby, considering there are plenty of international sluggers among MLB’s home run leaders. Think: Shohei Ohtani with the same Derby fanfare we saw earlier this month, only with a once-every-four-years opportunity to play for the home country that adores him. And that incredible first round against Juan Soto — only that becomes Japan vs. the Dominican Republic. At the same time, it would be a great way to get introduced to stars of other leagues on an individual basis in a straightforward, meaningful context.

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All that and the chance for Pete Alonso to become a national hero in what is sure to be a slick pair of custom cleats that he secured for the whole U.S. contingent.

Qualifying Derbies could be held in the offseason and qualified countries could send up to three people to Olympics themselves. Or, I don’t know, maybe just make it that the top 10 percent of home run hitters in certain leagues automatically qualify. We can work out the details later.

Plenty of existing Olympic disciplines are short bursts of activity that depend on single athletic skill. In the context of shot put and weightlifting, repeatedly swinging for the fences feels right at home.

I say all this as someone who is not even a huge homer fan (I prefer Herodotus) in my daily baseball diet. But moonshots are visceral and home run derbies are inherently action-packed. The Olympics — for all the flaws — create instant narratives that captivate new audiences around the world. Baseball could use that, and it deserves better than the largely forgettable tournament being played right now in Japan.

Does this idea exclude pitchers, whose power and precision is a big part of what actual baseball fans tune in to see? Sure. But that’s a harder sell to an unfamiliar audience and besides, if they start to get jealous about the medals hanging in their teammates’ lockers as Olympic Home Run Derby becomes a premier event at the Summer Games, then we can reevaluate whether actual baseball needs to be in the Olympics.

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