The 2016 Home Run Derby brought us another night of ridiculous power and a show of absolute dominance from Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, the eventual winner. The new bracket format with timed rounds has really resonated with the fans, making the experience more enjoyable to watch.
However one thing that many fans still seem to dislike is the broadcast crew chosen to commentate on the Derby. Chris Berman’s “Back back back back back GONE” was in full effect once again, and many fans seem to have grown tired of the ESPN and long-time Derby fixture. The popular sports satire podcast, Pardon My Take, correctly predicted which nearby location, Point Loma, Berman would invoke when describing how far a ball had traveled. Unfortunately, Point Loma is located due west from a stadium that points to the north.
It appears that the additions of Jessica Mendoza and Aaron Boone have rubbed some fans even further the wrong way. This is nothing against Mendoza, Boone, or Berman, but the broadcast has gotten stale over the years, and this years addition of two extra voices seemed unnecessary, as it seemed that the three were fighting for speaking time.
With all of the talk of how to improve the All-Star break festivities, one solution could be to let those other All-Stars on the sidelines announce the Derby while their teammates and friends go at it at the plate. We consistently see great, and often hilarious, shows of support from certain players, like this one from Jose Fernandez for teammate Stanton.
— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) July 12, 2016
Realistically who wouldn’t want to listen to Fernandez commentate while Stanton hits moonshot after moonshot, losing his mind the whole time?
That’s not to say Fernandez is the only interesting personality in the MLB, there are several more players who would be interesting to hear commentate the Derby. We all know Andrew McCutchen as the likable outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and how fun would it be to have a moment like this mic’d up?
Year after year we see the spectating players having a great time and/or losing their minds as baseballs are launched into orbit, and it certainly would be fun to have baseball’s varied personalities on air. Of course some players (Looking at you, Jayson Werth) would probably get too heated for broadcast but guys like Fernandez, Adam Eaton, Adam Jones, the Bryzzo duo and Salvador Perez would surely add another element of entertainment and fun to further enhance the viewing experience.
The Home Run Derby is not a regular-season game, and therefore should be treated differently. It is not the type of event that benefits from schticky studio hosts talking about strategy. The objective of the event is to entertain while sluggers swing from the heels at meatballs lobbed right down the plate. The league took a creative approach with the format last year, and it appears to be paying dividends. It’s time to do the same with the coverage.