Monday night at July 15, at 8 p.m. ET from Citi Field in New York ESPN and ESPN Radio will air the coverage of the Home Run Derby. The network broadcast team doing the coverage will be Chris Berman, John Kruk and Nomar Garciaparra.
During a conference call I talked with both Kruk and Garciaparra about a number of subjects. The topics ranged from why fans enjoy watching the event to a battle of interest in the Baltimore-Washington area. .
JW: For the past 20 years people have watched the Home Run Derby. What do you think makes it such a popular event with the fans?
JOHN KRUK: I think it’s the power. People love to see how far guys can hit baseballs. No one comes out to watch people bunt a ball; who cares about that? A lot of people can bunt, but try to hit one 500 feet like these guys and especially without a cage. You’re out there all by yourself with 40,000 or 50,000 people staring at you. I don’t think I would like to do it. I think people tune in because they want to see how far guys can hit a baseball.
NOMAR GARCIAPARRA: I think people are fascinated with home runs and they want to see that. Also, I think people were going to tune in because usually at the All‑Star break, there was no other major sport going on at that time. Baseball was taking a break.
So when you had that Home Run Derby, people were tuned in because for the longest time it was the only sport you could watch. You got to see these All‑Stars, these big, big men hitting the ball a long, long way. Also, I think people like to see [participants’] peers along the sidelines and to marvel at how far these guys are hitting the baseball.
JW: We have a bit of a Baltimore – Washington rivalry going with Orioles Chris Davis and the Nationals Bryce Harper. John will talk about Chris and Nomar gets Bryce.
KRUK: Can Chris Davis win? Yeah, without question. I think for two reasons. One, he can hit to all fields, which sometimes doesn’t factor into the Home Run Derby. The fact that, when you watch his home runs, he doesn’t swing hard, so as the later rounds come on, if he keeps advancing, to me he’s going to be fresher than anyone else in this thing. I think to me he’s the leader in the clubhouse right now to win it, even though Prince won last year.
GARCIAPARRA: Listen, I think, you know, along the lines of the hype that Bryce Harper had coming into the major leagues, one of the stories you heard and they talked about was when he was, gosh, in high school the Home Run Derby he had at Tropicana Field and how hard and far he was hitting the ball there, and with his swing, I think it’s perfect.
I think David Wright made a good choice in asking him to be part of the Home Run Derby. I think people want to see it, get excited, such as we do watching him play. He’s definitely exciting out there on the field. We know he has the power. We’ve heard the stories of how far he can hit the ball not just during the game, but outside during batting practice and here is an opportunity to see that. I think it was a great choice. Like I said before, Prince Fielder says, “This is what I do in batting practice.” This is what Bryce Harper does at batting practice, hits the ball out of the ballpark and tries to do it. He has as good of a chance as anybody to win this.