The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

July 17, 2013

Tweak the mid-summer classic before you lose me

(Continued)

My last tweak concerns the Monday night Home Run Derby. Now that steroids are no longer prevelant, it's fun to see the game's top power-hitters muscle the ball over the fence using just their own juice. My problem is it's not challenging enough.

This may be a bit radical but here's my idea. Instead of having batting practice coaches lob up pitches to the plate like your next-door neighbor at the local slowpitch game, let's use a pitching machine.

The devices have come a long way since the early days and now most of them are pretty consistent in terms of speed and placement. Let's set it to throw a fastball down the heart of the plate every time and see how the home run guys do.

I'm not talking about a high-90s fastball ala Justin Verlander or Matt Harvey, but something a little tougher to hit than the ball-on-a-tee setup the contest seems to have morphed into. There has to be a happy medium that will enable the players to still show off their long-ball prowess without making the home run all but a sure thing.

So will making these changes revive my interest in the event? Maybe, maybe not. But the way it's going now, MLB is sure to lose me in the next year or two.

Jim Rueda is The Free Press Sports editor. He can be reached at jrueda@mankatofreepress.com or at 507-344-6381.

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