Why Is The MLB Home Run Derby Such A Hit?

July 16, 2012

A contingent of Minnesota Twins officials were in Kansas City last week checking out operations surrounding the MLB All-Star Game as news swirled about the possibility of Target Field hosting the 2014 event.

Baseball’s All-Star Game is the best in pro sports and it will be a great showcase for the organization and the city if and when it arrives.

Along with the game itself comes an opportunity to pack the ballpark for the annual Home Run Derby, which remains an incredibly popular draw for fans – even though I happen to believe it’s the most boring sporting event of the year.

It gets longer every year as players watch pitch after pitch go by in a effort to find the perfect ball to hit (while getting some rest in the process).

I seem to catch a few seconds of the radio broadcast in the car on a yearly basis and wonder who would possibly be listening. However, the TV broadcast is no treat either, with Chris Berman launching into his patented “back, back, back, back, back … gone” home run call 147 times.

Yet inexplicably, the ratings keep climbing — up 3 percent from last year, with roughly 7 million viewers tuning in to watch what amounts to glorified batting practice. That’s more viewers than any of the games in the NHL Finals.

Fans tend to ding the NBA Slam Dunk contest because the players rarely deliver dunks that we haven’t seen before. But is there anything new the Home Run Derby could offer us in the post-steroids era? We’ve seen really long home runs — lots of them. So what’s the appeal for fans who don’t have one of their favorite players represented in the contest?

I’m a big sports fan, but I’d rather watch “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” on a loop than 10 minutes of the Home Run Derby. Am I off base here?