Monday, July 13, 2015

Scrap the Home Run Derby

Today is Monday of the All-Star Break. And that can only mean one thing.

Major League Baseball's official freak show.

Not only is the Home Run Derby totally meaningless, and its history riddled with cheaters, but the winner frequently gets hurt right after it, hurting his team after he participated in a meaningless competition.

Did I say, "riddled with cheaters"? You're damn right I did:

1986 Wally Joyner
1992 Mark McGwire
1993 Juan Gonzalez
1996 Barry Bonds
2000 Sammy Sosa
2001 Luis Gonzalez
2002 Jason Giambi (admittedly, a Yankee at the time)
2004 Miguel Tejada
2010 David Ortiz

The whole point of the home run is its excitement -- much of which is due to its being unexpected. That's why the most famous home runs aren't those hit by Babe Ruth or Mark McGwire, but by less-likely heroes: Bobby Thomson, Dusty Rhodes, Bill Mazeroski, Dave Henderson, Scott Podsednik.

As a Yankee Fan, I can name Chris Chambliss, Bucky Dent, Jim Leyritz, Chad Curtis and Aaron Boone. Met fans can name Al Weis, Lenny Dykstra, Todd Pratt, Robin Ventura and Benny Agbayani.

Kirk Gibson was a good slugger, but his 1988 homer was huge because he was injured and it was a big surprise. In contrast, Reggie Jackson had to hit 3 homers in a single World Series game to get anybody to notice. Why doesn't Joe Carter get more credit for hitting a Series-winning homer? Less the 396 homers he hit in regular season play, more that it was off Mitch Williams, so you could kind of see it coming. In the Home Run Derby, you expect home runs. So they're no big deal.

Scrap the Home Run Derby. Bring back the Old-Timers Game.


Hours until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: 10, tonight, at 9:30 Eastern Time, against Panama, in the Group Stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. The U.S. men haven't exactly followed the amazing path of the U.S. women -- or have they? The U.S. women didn't look great in the Group Stage of the recent Women's World Cup, but they plowed through the knockout rounds like the other teams owed them money. At any rate, regardless of how tonight's game ends, the U.S. is assured of topping their group.

Days until the Red Bulls play again: 5, this Saturday night at 7:30, away to Orlando City, their 1st-ever meeting with this expansion team.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": 8, next Tuesday afternoon, at 4:00, against the Philadelphia Union, in the Quarterfinal of the U.S. Open Cup, America's version of the FA Cup. The next game against the New England Revolution will be on Saturday night, August 22, at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The next game against D.C. United will be on Sunday night, August 30, at Red Bull Arena.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 22, on Tuesday, August 4, at 7:00 PM, at Yankee Stadium II. A little over 3 weeks.

Days until Arsenal play again (in a competitive match): 27, on Sunday afternoon (8:30 in the morning our time), home to East London club West Ham United. Under 4 weeks.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 52, on Thursday night (why?), September 3, away to Woodbridge. A little over 7 weeks.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 54, on Saturday afternoon, September 5, home to Norfolk State.

Days until the Devils play again: 88, on Friday, October 9, home to the Winnipeg Jets. A little under 3 months.

Days until the Islanders' first home game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn: 88, also on Friday, October 9, against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. Or, to put it another way, "88 Sleeps Till Brooklyn." Until then, despite having definitively played their last competitive game in the Nassau Coliseum, even with their 4 straight long-ago Stanley Cups, they're just a Small Club In Hempstead.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: 97, on Sunday, October 18, away to the Rangers.

Days until the next North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham: 117, on Saturday, November 7, at the Emirates Stadium.

Days until the next East Brunswick vs. Old Bridge Thanksgiving game: 136, on Thursday morning, November 26, at 10:00 AM, at EB. A little over 4 months.

Days until the Copa América Centenario begins on U.S. soil: 326, on June 3, 2016. A little under 11 months. The tournament will be between teams from the North American, Central American and Caribbean region (CONCACAF) and South America (CONMEBOL, which is celebrating its 100th Anniversary). Although it's a member of CONCACAF rather than CONMEBOL, the U.S. is the host nation, and thus qualifies automatically, as it does for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Days until Euro 2016 begins in France: 333, on Friday, June 10.

Days until the next Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 389, on Friday, August 5, 2016. A little under 13 months.

Days until Alex Rodriguez's Yankee contract runs out: Officially, at the end of the 2017 season. Game 7 of that year's World Series could turn out to be on Halloween, so, for the sake of this entry, let's say October 31, 2017, which would be 1,206 -- a little over 2 years. Of course, the Yankees could release him before then, but I don't think the House of Steinbrenner wants to take the financial hit from buying him out.

Days until the next World Cup begins in Russia: 1,426, on Friday June 8, 2018. A little over 3 years.

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