Five O’clock Power
Everyone knows the home run derby is silly. It takes the art of hitting and reduces it to the most meaningless of spectacles. Hitting floaters down the middle with consistency is so irrelevant to what makes a great slugger that it’s almost funny watching the big boppers struggle with it. Ryan Howard provided some legitimacy last year, but before that:
- Bobby Abreu – Smashed the record with 41 in the derby and has hit 26 in the two years since then.
- Miguel Tejada – Great power for a SS, but a HR king? He’s never hit 35 in his life.
- Garret Anderson – Has only hit 30 HR once in his career
And then we had a bunch of juicers (Giambi, Gonzalez, Sosa) before Griffey Jr. again injected (pardon the phrase) some legitimacy into the event. In an indictment of the appreciation of modern fans for the nuances of the game it is far and away the most watched event of the summer, but I watch the derby with the same mix of excitement and revulsion as a shootout in Soccer or Hockey. C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas le Jeux.
That being said, I really wish Alex Rios had not gotten tired and won the thing yesterday, because you could almost hear the commentators waving their arms frantically at interns to try to get something intelligent to say about him. They even cut to an interview with Holliday while Rios was eliminating him and getting a standing ovation with the biggest streak of the event.
Seriously, this is the internet age- “he plays in Canada” is no longer an excuse. There are only 8 players out there and you’re telling me you haven’t done enough research to say something more informed than “I can’t see him keeping this up- he’s already hit more home runs this season that he did all of last year”?? If Alex played for New York the commentators wouldn’t be standing around chuckling that he slipped into the finals, they’d be raving about him being one of the most exciting young players in the game who can also steal bases and has the best arm in the League.
But while he may have impressed everyone who watched the event, second place isn’t enough for big media to admit their ignorance and start splashing his name around like they were old friends. Just ask Jason Stark, who managed to write an entire piece on the event while only mentioning Rios’ name once, in passing. At least the hometown paper saw fit to give him a pat on the back (sorry, I just had to slip this picture in somehow).
The other big reason I wish he’d won is then everyone could agree that he should never bat leadoff again.