Mookie Betts slams HR Derby, advocates for new All-Star Week events: 'Do something else or take it out'
Has the Home Run Derby run its course? Mookie Betts certainly thinks so.
The Red Sox outfielder won’t be participating in this year’s Home Run Derby and he doesn’t think anyone else should either. Recently voted a starter in his third straight All-Star Game, Betts joined a long list of sluggers who turned down this year’s long ball exhibition.
“Do something else or take it out. Don’t even do it,” Betts said of the event, per WEEI. “Anything you do too much, people are going to get tired of it.”
Betts offered a few ideas for replacements, citing the NBA adding a skills competition to join its dunk competition when the latter started getting stale.
"Something like a throwing from the outfield contest. Some type of throwing contest," he said. "Trying to throw into a barrel or infielders have to take a ground ball to your left, ground ball to your right, slow roller and they have to throw into a screen with a box. That might be something."
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Betts also drew inspiration from his little league days. As a 12-year-old, he competed in a skills competition while playing in a youth tournament at the Baseball Hall of Fame. In that tournament, Betts and his teammates won a game of “Around the Horn” where teams threw a ball around the bases and into the outfield. Betts isn’t insisting the MLB institute those exact ideas; he just thinks something needs to change.
"I think if you look at Cooperstown, they do a really good job," Betts said.
Some past derby contestants have complained about a possible “Home Run Derby hangover” due to changing their swings for the event. Betts, whose 22 homers tie him for seventh in the AL, is one of many sluggers to publicly decline a Home Run Derby bid, in addition to J.D. Martinez, Mike Trout and Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. In all, four of the AL’s top nine home run hitters have said they wouldn’t participate in the derby on July 16 in D.C.
Judge won the 2017 Home Run Derby but struggled afterwards. Hampered by a left shoulder injury, he hit just .179 with seven homers in his first 44 games after the All-Star break.
“The main reason why I did it is for the fans. That’s really the only reason why I did it is for the fans, to put on a good show,” Judge said on Sunday. “This year we’ve got something special going on, and I’m kind of sad I’m not doing it. But we’ve got something pretty special here and I just want to stay healthy going into the second half.”
With less than a week until the All-Star break, the only confirmed participants for this year’s Home Run Derby are hometown favorite Bryce Harper and Max Muncy of the Dodgers.