I don't get too excited about the Home Run Derby these days.
I don't know why.
Maybe I'm no longer in the demographic the event caters to.
Maybe it's because the event is a nuisance to the players themselves, as Major League Baseball is still looking for the last couple of participants, two days before the Derby.
But I have a couple of thoughts on how Major League Baseball can reel back in disenfranchised folks like me.
Why do the participants in the derby have to be All Stars? Just because the event takes place the night before the All Star Game doesn't mean it has to be populated by players from the game.
Yes, I understand that fans chose some of the players who participate, and yes, I understand that it's an exhibition of skills that some of these players have...but not all of them. Probably less than half of the All Star team (pitchers included here) are sluggers. Why not invite some of the big boppers from around the majors to the All Star festivities to participate in the Home Run Derby? I bet it would be crowd-pleasing.
For example...I don't know that Ike Davis will be an all star in his career (I certainly hope so, but I don't know). But that guy can pound the ball in regular season games - I bet he could put on a show in the Derby.
The Diamondbacks' Mark Reynolds looks like a joke at the plate sometimes. But he hits some monster home runs. Put him in the Derby every year. (Plus, with him, you have the possibility of the first-ever Home Run Derby strikeout.)
Make one or two of the participants (maybe one per league) fan-selected, like the All Star starters. Maybe the players have the option to decline their selection, or better yet, put only players who say they would like to participate on the ballot. This way no matter who the fans choose, he'll go.
It's a chance for baseball to showcase young talent, like the Marlins' Mike Stanton. Or guys who no one has heard of, like the Pirates' Garrett Jones. Or the types of perennial sluggers who aren't always All Stars, like Adam Dunn, or Carlos Pena.
I was never a fan of making the All Star Game "count" by giving home field advantage in the World Series to the league that wins. But I think the Home Run Derby could be spiced up with a similar (though less high-stakes) incentive. Like, the winning league gets an extra All Star - the second-highest vote-getter in the last man competition for the AL and NL stands by Monday night, and as soon as the Home Run Derby is decided, gets on a plane to the All Star Game destination. Could be some great television, too.
So there's the proposal. It would help me get more interested in the Home Run Derby again.
Make it happen, Major League Baseball.