By RICK SOLEM
Carlos Gomez isn’t in the Home Run Derby. Neither are the top home run hitters in baseball. Neither are a lot of sluggers one would want to see in an exhibition of hitting a ball far.
Baltimore’s Nelson Cruz and rookie Jose Abreu – 28 home runs each – who lead the league, aren’t in the lineup. Fan favorites and long-time veterans Albert Pujols and David Ortiz – both Top 10 in home runs this season – aren’t either.
If there’s one thing fans should vote for in sports it’s the stupid home run derby, which takes place at 7 p.m. Monday. How baseball manages to screw up something so simple is baffling.
Instead of fans voting – like they do for the actual game that’s supposed to “count” - the rosters are picked by the top all-star vote-getters, Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Bautista.
So we get a Home Run Derby made up of very few interesting names and some only baseball diehards would appreciate.
I can understand Stanton and Puig. The rest, I don’t get. Todd Frazier? Really? The fans voted Aramis Ramirez ahead of him at third base in the actual game. A mistake for sure, but a clear sign that nobody could give a you-know-what about Todd Frazier hitting home runs.
And, like the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, some of the top names – Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout – bowed out. Others, have simply been left out. Gomez, for one. He’s refreshingly made it public he wants to participate. Bryce Harper should be out there, too.
Even Ryan Braun would be more interesting than Frazier. A lot more interesting, though Bud Selig probably told the captains not to select Braun.
What more compelling television – for all-star events, anyway – than waiting to hear the crowd boo Braun with each and every home run and cheer louder than at any other time when he records an out.
It would be gold, people. Gold!
Instead, we get Todd. Frazier. Cespedes. Brian Dozier. Yeah, yeah, Dozier is a homer pick, but he doesn’t have that many homers – 18 last year, 16 this year and six more his rookie year. I can’t wait. #Sarcasm
Who are we trying to appease bringing the Twin to hit at his home park? If the home state wants the homer pick to hit homers then let them vote him in.
Thursday the final roster spots will be announced by the captains in each league. It should be Gomez in the NL. Maybe it’ll be Justin Morneau – another homer pick, times two, since he played most of his career with the Twins and he’s now Tulowitzki’s teammate in Colorado.
Regardless of who it is, baseball messed it up and the new ‘playoff’ format will most likely fail, as well.
Here’s an explanation of the new format from MLB.com: “Five players from each league will receive seven outs instead of the usual 10 in the first round. The player who hits the most homers in each league will receive an automatic bye to the third round (semifinals). The next two players from each league with the most homers will square off against one another in a head-to-head matchup in the second round (seven outs), with the two winners advancing to the semifinals against the league's top seed (again, with seven outs).”