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Monday, October 20, 2014

Leaving Bryce Harper out of Home Run Derby is latest example of MLB screwing up All-Star Game

Matt Kemp is the captain of the National League Home Run Derby team at next month’s All-Star Game, and he says he’s picked out his squad. Despite his prodigious power, Nationals rookie Bryce Harper didn’t make Kemp’s cut.

“It’s not because he’s a rookie. It’s just that there are other guys out there that are capable,” Kemp told USA TODAY Sports. “I’m not saying he wouldn’t do a good job in the Home Run Derby. He’s going to have plenty of time to participate in many Home Run Derbies. Just not this year. Nothing against him. I love watching him play.”

Kemp says he based his decision on stats, and Harper is only tied for 50th in the National League with 7 home runs. Based on his reasoning, it’s understandable why Harper was left off. And given that Kemp is captain, he can choose whomever he wants based on whatever criteria he wants. He’s doing nothing wrong.

The problem is that MLB has screwed things up once again.

It’s bad enough that MLB is still allowing what’s clearly an exhibition game to determine home field advantage in the World Series. Now they’re allowing the break’s signature event to be less inspiring.

Fans watch the Home Run Derby to see sluggers belt the ball as far as possible. It’s about putting on a show, and the big boppers do it the best.

For every dozen line drives Garret Anderson or Bobby Abreu hit over the fence, give me one 500-foot moonshot from Prince Fielder. The fans want to see Josh Hamilton, Giancarlo Stanton, and Jose Bautista. They want Bryce Harper, who hit the scoreboard at Tropicana Field when he was 16. We want to see the 19-year-old phenom put on a show.

“Everyone knows the kid hits the ball a ton and everyone wants to see it,” LBS fan David Acevedo wrote on Wednesday.

He’s exactly right. MLB needs to recognize that and get him in the Derby. And you know how to do that? Allow the “captain” to pick three of the four participants and reserve one spot for either fans or MLB to choose, preferably the fans.

You know fans would have voted Bryce Harper into the Derby. And if not, then maybe they’d give us an equally entertaining option like, say Juan Pierre. It’s an easy fix, and MLB still has time to salvage the situation by intervening now and inviting Harper.

Hey, if Bud Selig can call a tie in an All-Star Game mid-game, why can’t he make this change two weeks ahead of time?

Oh, and while we’re at it, here are three very simple ways for MLB to improve the All-Star Game. I wrote that list in 2008 and, sadly, nothing has changed.

Photo credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE



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