Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ian Kinsler: Home Run Derby Controversy?

Did Ian Kinsler lose out on the all-star game because of the home run derby? Conspiracy theorists unite!
Here’s another possible explanation. As recently as four days ago, the American League had only one confirmed participant for Monday’s Home Run Derby, the unlikely Joe Mauer. Defending champion Justin Morneau begged off. So did Hamilton, the unquestioned star of last year’s event. And since no one but Mauer had signed up by Friday, it’s a reasonable assumption that every other AL All-Star said “no thanks” as well.
Interesting. We have heard about the negative effects of the home run derby from one source or another and whether you believe the claims or not, you can't fault the players for taking notice of the negative trends.

Here's the question at hand: did the negative trends prevent players from taking part in the derby. Probably. And for the American League, it would have been a huge embarassment if they could not find 4 reasonable entrants to the home run derby....which leads us to this:

"Let’s put all of this together and see what we’ve got: (a) AL hitters refusing to swing in the home run derby + (b) Cruz and Pena selected over more obvious candidates Lind and Kinsler = (c) theory: replacement candidates were informed that their selection would be conditioned upon agreement to participate in the derby, and Lind & Kinsler either declined, or didn’t accept quickly enough to give the league comfort. They have 19 and 20 home runs respectively, more than enough to justify entry in the derby had they been willing. The league didn’t have to select Cruz and Pena with their slightly higher HR totals (22 and 24) to give the derby credibility. But they did need to select players willing to take part.

Sure, it’s a conspiracy theory, and like most conspiracy theories it is based more on conjecture and circumstance than actual evidence. But it has something else in common with other conspiracy theories: it arises because official explanations are lacking. There is no good reason that Lind was not picked to fill in for Hunter, or Kinsler for Pedroia, unless a desperate AL needed derby entries and couldn’t get assurances from Lind or Kinsler that they would play ball."

Is it possible that the American League became so desperate for home run derby contestants that they based their all star selections on who would compete in the derby? The idea doesn't sound all that crazy and actually makes quite a bit of sense. The mere thought of this pisses me off though because Kinsler and Lind were far more deserving candidates and something as meaningless as the home run derby should have no impact on the all star game, which is supposed to count.

And note to MLB: shorten the home run derby. The contest has become tedious and drags on far too long. Where's the excitement????

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