The 2019 Home Run Derby was certainly one to remember. Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. had an epic battle with Joc Pederson in the semifinals and finished the semis with a *nice* 2-round total of 69 home runs, more than doubling his adversary, Pete Alonso, the eventual winner. The past few years of the Derby with this new format have been fun to watch, but there are still a few tweaks that could make this event even better.
The stupid rule of the ball hitting the ground needs to go away
Since the new format was introduced in 2015, the hitter could take as many swings as they wanted/could in 4 minutes, provided that they wait for the previous ball to land before throwing the next pitch. The first year or 2, participants mostly adhered to this guideline, but over time, the hitters/pitchers have been testing the umpires to actually enforce this rule. It was especially apparent in 2018 when Bryce Harper won the Derby, but wasn’t really following this rule. 2019 was so egregious because even the umpires were telling the pitcher he could pitch before the ball landed. So here’s my question: if this rule isn’t being followed, can’t be enforced properly, and doesn’t make sense as a rule in general, then why the hell is it a rule? There’s no advantage gained either way if this rule goes away. Sure, you can throw as many pitches as you want, but the hitters are going to be gassed way sooner if this rule is removed. It just seems silly to put in a useless rule that isn’t even being enforced.
Get these 11-year-olds off the field
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to give these young kids the opportunity and experience to shag balls during a Home Run Derby, but they are actively putting them in danger. Watching those little kids try to catch 113-mph piss missiles is a frightening experience. Not only that, but they have to compete with other kids who are trying to catch the balls crashing into them. Also, they really aren’t paying attention when the hitters are rapidly hitting balls in their direction. Before someone gets a Vladdy liner straight to the dome, let’s stop this.
ESPN’s camerawork is god awful
Yes, it might be hard to keep up with all of the action going on if you are a cameraman trying to capture it, but come on, this is legitimately making the Derby less fun to watch. It hurts every viewer when they zoom in on the ball flying towards the scoreboard and it lands in the infield because the camera was zoomed so far in that you couldn’t really get a sense of how far it was hit. Whoever is in charge of the camera that follows the ball after it leaves the bat, do us a favor and zoom out. Let us see the crowd getting ready to catch it. The next problem is that there were probably 15 or 20 home runs that we didn’t see because the camera wasn’t even following the ball. I swear they must tell the cameramen “if it doesn’t reach 100 feet above the ground, it isn’t a home run, you don’t need to follow it.” If following every ball is an issue, then just get more cameras, ESPN has plenty of money to just get another camera to follow the balls.
The winner shouldn’t be the only player getting money
Pete Alonso hit 57 home runs in the Derby this year, and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. hit 91 and Pete Alonso is walking home with $1 million and Vlad is walking home with nothing. I definitely think that the winner of the Derby should still be taking home the bread, but Vlad Jr. was the star of the show. There are a couple of different ideas for how to reward guys that might not have won the Derby, but definitely won the night. The best one that I could think of was giving a reward to the hitter with the most home runs in the Derby. It could be $1 million, it could be $500,000. But it offers incentive to the hitters that have to hit tons of home runs to get into the finals, and then lose in the finals because they are so tired.
Photo: Tampa Bay Times