The unveiling of the All-Star Game rosters happened on Sunday, which means that the Home Run Derby is only a week away. It’s always fun to see how far the best players in baseball can hit the ball for one night in July. This year’s event might seem ordinary instead of extraordinary because one could argue that the whole 2017 season has been one big Home Run Derby.
So far in 2017, through yesterday’s action, 3,105 balls have left Major League Baseball stadiums. In June alone, a new monthly record 1,101 balls went over the fence, passing the 1,069 hit in May 2000. The major-league record for homers in a season is 5,693, a record that is certainly going to be obliterated by almost 450 homers at the current pace. So now the question is: are all these long balls good for baseball? The answer is no.
Baseball is becoming too much of an all-or-nothing sport, where the ball goes over the fence or a batter strikes out. Kids are taught to swing as hard as they can and pitchers are throwing harder than ever Striking out does not carry the same stigma it used to 25-30 years ago. More strikeouts can lead to longer at-bats and longer games. In today’s instant gratification society, this is the exact opposite thing baseball needs.
Sitting back and waiting for a homer is not as exciting as seeing the ball go between the outfielders, and watching how fast Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton can run around the bases. The Home Run Derby mentality has entered into the 162-game season, where homers are becoming the mainstay of baseball’s offensive game. Putting the ball in play has its advantages too, and baseball is in danger of forgetting that.
Not everyone likes the long ball.