BOSTON - The Home Run Derby contest the day before the annual all-star game is a farce, so letís get that out there right away.
Since its inception in 1985 ó won by Dave Parker ó the long-ball hitting contest has been a made-for-TV event that also fills the stadium and helps separate the fans from their cash.
Every major sport has some sort of dumb promotion the day before the big event, but baseballís Home Run Derby has to be the dopiest.
Both the NBA and NHL have various skills competitions to showcase the best that their sport can bring. Itís part of the ďspectacle.Ē
Unlike baseball, they are not part of the regular game that grinds along during each of the seasons.
Baseball, though, has a Home Run Derby each and every day of the regular season. Itís called batting practice and if you happen to show up early enough, you can watch the last half of the visiting team pound them out for the cost of a game ticket. No extra charge.
When the lights go on this yearís Home Run Derby next Tuesday in Phoenix, Blue Jays fans will have a rooting interest due to the inclusion of Jose Bautista, who smote 54 homers last year to be the home run king of 2010.
It will be Bautistaís first MLB Derby contest and he is entered after being selected by last yearís champion, David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox.
ďWhen I called, he was like: ĎYou donít have to say it twice.í I knew Bautista shouldíve been in it last year,Ē Ortiz said the other day. ďI was kind of a little upset about it, because I wanted to see Bautista hitting, I wanted everybody to know what heís all about.Ē
Traditionally, the Jays have not fared well in the event.
Alex Rios turned in the best performance in 2007 when he totalled 19 homers, the most any player hit that night. But he finished second as in the final round he lost 3-2 to Vladimir Guerrero.
Most Jays donít make it out of the first round.
In 1991 and 1996 Joe Carter managed just two homers each time out, but he did hit four in 1992. Carlos Delgado belted six in 2000, the second-highest total, and four more than he managed in 2003.
The lowest total by a Jays player was the one that Troy Glaus slugged in 2006.
Bautista, by the way, will be the eighth Jays player to take part in the competition.
He says he is looking forward to it and doesnít think in any way that it will mess with his swing.
ďTo me itís something Iím going to have fun with, itís like batting practice, so I donít even think about that stuff (messing up his swing),Ē Bautista said Tuesday. ďIíll be fine. Iíve been in home run contests before so itís not that big of a deal. Itís never messed me up so I donít expect it to.
ďIím not going to change my swing for the sake of trying to hit more home runs. Iím just going to go out there and do what I do normally in batting practice. If I hit some, I hit some. If I win, perfect. If I donít, it will be a fun experience.Ē
Let the farce begin.