Siberian Baseball

Monday, July 10, 2006

All-Star Lame

"Hey, are you going to go home and watch the home run derby tonight?" asked a co-worker as he was leaving the office tonight.

"The What-what Derby?" I asked.

Oh, right. Home Run Derby... yeah, about that...

Just as Bill Simmons has his plan to rescue the NBA's mid-season circle jerk, I came up with no fewer than three new events for baseball to try on in lieu of the usual snooze-fest that is the homer contest. Seeing as the celebrity softball game is much more entertaining than the events featuring the actual stars, it's not like there's a lot to lose.

First, taking the premise of the NHL's All-Star weekend, why doesn't MLB adopt an overall skills competition? Even the NFL has the fastest man and various QB competitions, so it's not like we're reinventing the wheel.

Rather, it's like slapping someone upside the head and pointing repeatedly while yelling, "Wheel, dumbass! Wheel!"

Borrow the breakaway plates from the NHL and have catchers try to break them as they are placed inches above second. Have a speedster like Scott Podsednik try to reach second before the outfield can throw a ball from left to right and back in. See how many pichers can break a few dishes given a running clock and 10 baseballs.

How can this idea lose?

Adding even a few new events would break the stale atmosphere that surrounds the All-Star events and might make the game watchable again. Wouldn't it be nice to see Jason Varitek and Joe Mauer square off as they try to pick off virtual runners with five targets and 10 balls?

Hell, people pay to do this shit at a carnival, right?

Without getting too over the top and full of beans (I propose a boxing match between AJ Pierzinski and a kangaroo or maybe a robot) here are a few quick ideas that I wouldn't even demand credit for on a national stage - however a small stipend might be nice.

* Catcher Pickoff - The cornerstone of this brainstorm. Take 10 balls, five targets and let fly like the NHL shooting competition. Let's see who comes out on top for the "defensive" catchers of the league who can't hit worth a damn, but keep their jobs on the strength of their arms.

* Around the Horn - Ball starts in left field and a runner starts from home plate. The ball must go from left to right field before it can be thrown to second. Might need tweaking depending on how quickly the ball goes around the outfield. Maybe a simpler version with an OF, cutoff man and catcher in a race home from third would be better.

I'm cool either way.

* MLB's Fastest Man - The NHL and NFL have this competition, why not here? Two runners race to first base in a simple footrace to answer who's faster - Ichiro or Juan Pierre?

* Pitching Control - Get more plates and see how many pitches it takes to paint all the corners of the plate. Simple, simple.

* Pitching Velocity - Another one stolen from the NHL, but get a half dozen flamethrowers together to see who has the fastest stuff in the league. Who knows, Kyle Farnsworth might be a winner for the first time in his life.

Let's get it cracka-lackin' MLB. We'll be waiting for a significant improvement next year.

(Images from /


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