Monday, July 13, 2015

The Home Run Derby farce

Somehow it seemed fitting that the 4-letter network would bring Chris (The Boomer) Berman out of semi-retirement for this year's major league home run derby. After all, who better with his back back back back back back back signature routine to scream into a microphone for such an event? Yet the Boomer soon gave way to the current generation of ranting hypsters that he has evidently spawned. Maybe Berman can't hit the high (glass breaking) note any more. It happens. Here's wishing him well if he fades back back back back back back back out of the ranting audios again.

It's great they set a 5 minute time limit on how long any participant had to take his mighty cuts. Enough with the theatrics and hamming it up for the crowd. Get in the box and hit, dammit. The clock is ticking. But facets of this year's Derby were shameful, even laughable.

Though simple enough, it couldn't just be an ironclad 5 minutes. Oh hell no. These guys actually got a time-out. What did we learn from this? Evidently, after taking batting practice for a whole 3 minutes, they were "gassed" and in need of a breather. Three minutes swinging a bat every ten seconds or so is the limit of their endurance? Really??  That's pitiful.

During his time-out, former Tiger Prince Fielder even took a large bite out of a kid's cotton candy. Great idea, Prince. Every chance you get -- eat something -- especially if it's free. No wonder you've always looked like a bearded beachball.

So as such things go these days, it couldn't just be a one-shot thing. Whoever hits the most home runs in their five minutes wins. Oh hell no. There had to be brackets. You know, quarter finals, semis, and -- sound the trumpets -- THE FINALS. This was good for fans in attendance at the ball park because dragging this event on for so long resulted in a lot of souvenir baseballs going into the stands. Also good for sponsors (commercials). Lots of those.

Idle thought: What gives with the latest erectile dysfunction commercial? Here we have a beautiful young woman at a seaside mansion replete with swimming pool and every other luxury known to mankind. Millions of men would love to enjoy her company in such an exotic setting. So why is she wearing a wedding band and where is her husband? Bet he won't be too happy if he sees those ads.

Finally, mercifully, as the brackets were pared down in their marathonish 5 minutes of "brutal labor", time-outs, cotton candy, and all -- we would know the winners. Five minutes is five minutes, right? Oh hell no. Then -- like a soccer game -- they got "extra" time. Another 30 seconds or so to take a few more cuts. So what's the point in setting a 5 minute time limit in the first place?

What has become laughable is how the talking heads ooh and aah over every home run hit. They will scream of monster blasts, moonshots, and there goes another one into orbit. Lots of the home runs hit were over 400 feet, but that's not at all unusual during any pre-game batting practice session.

Thing is, the longest of them all in this year's Derby was a little over 480 feet. The talking heads went ballistic as if it was going to send back pictures from Neptune any second. Nobody came close to 500 feet. This, despite custom made bats, hotter balls (no reference to the idle thought above) and supposedly stronger athletes. In the old days lots of guys hit baseballs over 500 feet. Nowadays, nobody can approach it, and that seems odd.

I don't know who eventually won this year's Derby because I could only stand so much of the hype and wimpiness before finally tuning out. But if they want to make it much more interesting in years to come -- here's an idea.

Forget about the major leaguers. If you want to see "moon shots" bring in some of the heavyweights from slow-pitch softball. Yours truly played several years in a highly competitive league. The fences were anywhere from 300 to 325 feet at different parks. I could barely get one out every once in a while but the brutes routinely hit some colossal shots, likely 400 feet or better. With a softball.

Let guys like that bat in the Home Run Derby. How far could they hit a baseball lobbed up to them? 600? Over the scoreboard and out of the park? Beats me, but it would be quite a long distance show.

Besides, my former compadres wouldn't sweat like pigs and gasp for air after a measly 3 minutes on the field, and they surely wouldn't cop some kid's cotton candy. They had much more endurance and style.

At least until after the game. But like Vegas, what happened at the bars -- or shortly thereafter -- stayed at the bars. Sort of. Let's just say you didn't want to get stuck with the tab and good luck in the morning......

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