With the way it is shaping up, five years from now pitchers and utility men might headline the Home Run Derby. Each All-Star break, the once marquee event looks more and more like the debacle that is the NBA Dunk Contest. Whereas in the 80s, Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins faced off in memorable duels, today's over-branded event is a great big dud of Kia-sponsored stunts and Dwight Howard throwing the ball through the net from five feet away. And that's when the stars even deign to show up. LeBron and Durant have steadfastly refused to participate and crowds have been forced to sit through the likes of Jeremy Evans and Jamario Moon jumping around the gym more and more frequently.
Throughout the years, a shitload of research has been done on the so-called "Home Run Derby Curse," with many players and experts believing that participating in the Home Run Derby messes with your swing mechanics so badly that you end up derailing the rest of your season. (See: David Wright, Paul Konerko).
As such, we continue to see stars turn down invitations to participate in the event. This year already has seen players like Jose Abreu, Mike Trout, and Miguel Cabrera say n,o and more are expected to do the same.
But there's a simple enough solution to fix this problem: Get rid of the event.
Eventually enough big-name players will decline and we'll be treated to a bunch of players nobody has ever heard of swinging for the fences. We're basically already there anyway.
Even though we wouldn't be subjected to as many "back-back-back"s or references to nearby towns with Chris Berman on the mic, do you really want to spend your Monday night in July watching Kirk Nieuwenhuis compete in the Home Run Derby? Even Kirk Nieuwenhuis doesn't want to see Kirk Nieuwenhuis swinging at anything, let alone batting practice fastballs in the Home Run Derby.
Major League Baseball should take a page out of The Sopranos and Seinfeld, iconic TV shows that ended while they were on top. Nothing is more depressing than watching something that has clearly run its course do whatever it can to stay relevant. To borrow a phrase, Ken Griffey Jr. is not walking through that door. The Home Run Derby was nice while it lasted, but now it's The Office without Steve Carell. Bud Selig needs to swallow his pride and move on before he retires.
The Home Run Derby is a thing of the past.