I’m just going to jump right in and pull a quote from the horse’s mouth about why Nelson Cruz isn’t going to participate in the Home Run Derby at this year’s All Star Game:
I would love to do it. But at the same time, I have to think about my teammates and my team. If I go there, it can wear me out for two or three days after. And that’s not fair to my teammates, and it’s not fair for my team. That’s just the way it is.
This was said by a guy playing for a team that – at the time – was 8 games under .500. Ostensibly, this is the sentiment of a “team player” who’s more interested in his team winning ballgames. But, come on! Is it REALLY all that draining to stand up there and swing the bat a bunch of times? I thought you were a baseball player. Isn’t that something you do literally almost every single day for over half the calendar year? It’s not an “Inside-The-Park Home Run Derby”; you’re not being asked to run or do anything else. Just stand up there and take some hacks at some batting practice pitches for a few minutes.
I dunno. Maybe he’s right. Maybe it’s draining. Maybe he’ll be bed-ridden for the next few days after such laborious hard work. Or, maybe he’s hiding some ever-so-minor injury, and unnecessarily swinging the bat for no good reason will only exacerbate things. That might explain why he had 18 home runs through May and had only 1 in all of June. But, it seems to me a guy in this much of a funk – 1 homer in his last 29 games – could stand to benefit from a few homer-centric swings of the bat on a national stage. Maybe it gets him back on track to where he was when he was the best hitter in baseball the first two months of the season.
Or, maybe not, but I just can’t see how this hurts him. Maybe other guys – guys who aren’t powerful homer hitters – might see a change in their mechanics after participating in the Home Run Derby. Maybe those guys go into a bit of a lull in the days that follow. But, Cruz is MADE for this event! And, quite frankly, it does the fans a disservice for him to back out.
Why do I care if Nelson Cruz is an All Star? As the DH, he’ll get what, 2 at bats? Big fucking deal! The game itself is a total joke! It’s all about the pomp and circumstance leading up to it, including the ancillary events like the Home Run Derby itself.
I’ll be the first to admit, this isn’t an issue to get all bent out of shape about. It’s the Home Run Derby, who cares, right? I don’t, really. But, I might have, had a Mariner chosen to be involved. As it stands, it’s just the biggest cop-out in the world. Like how the best dunkers in the NBA choose to sit out of the dunk contest, and we’re left with the dregs. If you don’t want to be involved, then how about this: don’t go to the All Star Game at all! If it’s such a burden, and you’d rather have the rest, then just stay home.