Sunday, January 29, 2012

Better Than The Home Run Derby

It is All Star Weekend for the NHL and yesterday was perhaps the best event of any All Star weekend in any league. The Superskills Competition is fun for the fans to watch and players to be a part of. I would love if something like it was added to the MLB All Star weekend.

In the NHL it consists of six events an all the players are involved in some way. The events include Fastest Skater, Breakaway Challenge, Accuracy Shooting, Skills Challenge Relay, Hardest Shot, and Elimination Shootout. The Fastest Skater event could easily be paralleled to the fastest trip around the bases. The other events cannot be paralleled as easily but it wouldn't be too hard to come up with other challenges for baseball.

There could be a smaller home run challenge. And another event could be whichever team can do what I know as the "Star Drill" in the shortest amount of time. There could be other outfield and infield competitions as well.

This kind of event, no matter what the specifics are, is just better than what the Home Run Derby is now. It gets all the All Stars involved instead of just a handful and showcases the entire sport as opposed to just one aspect. It also brings another connection to the fans when they see the players doing drills that they might have practiced. The NHL players know it's fun and just enjoy showing their skills to the fans and other All Stars that are watching. These are the best players in the game and this format gives them the best chance to flaunt the fact.

Last year MLB had a lot of trouble getting players to actually want to participate in the All Star Game. If they insist on making the game count for something then they need to give the players a reason to show up. A skills competition could create a stage for the fastest players, the hardest throwers, and the most accurate throwers and hitters as well as the power hitters that already participate in the Home Run Derby. An event like this would replace the Home Run Derby but it wouldn't remove the entire spotlight from those involved. It would simply broaden the spotlight.

I would watch the NHL Superskills Competition over the MLB Home Run Derby any day. It has gotten to the point, for me, where I have more fun watching the other players on the sidelines with their kids during the Home Run Derby.  Making a baseball skills competition would be something I'd watch for what it is (and not just the cute children) and would be awesome.

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