Mookie Betts on Home Run Derby: ‘Do something else or take it out’

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
33 Comments

Even before the 2018 Home Run Derby field was finalized on Wednesday, we had known since May that Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts wouldn’t be among the participants. Betts said, when asked if he had interest in participating, “Hell no. I don’t hit home runs in BP. Can you imagine me going against Aaron Judge?”

Betts was joined by teammate J.D. Martinez as well as Yankees sluggers Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in the non-participation pool. Angels outfielder Mike Trout also declined to participate.

Betts, in fact, thinks that Major League Baseball should find a new event to include in its All-Star Game festivities or just take the Home Run Derby out, Rob Bradford of WEEI reported earlier this week. Betts said, “Do something else or take it out. Don’t even do it.” Betts added, “Anything you do too much, people are going to get tired of it.”

Betts suggested doing a skills competition. “Something like a throwing from the outfield contest. Some time of throwing contest. 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.”

While Betts’ idea is interesting, adding a skills competition wouldn’t have to come at the expense of the Home Run Derby. They could simply do both. A skills competition would be fascinating, seeing the outfield arms of Aaron Hicks, Kevin Kiermaier, Yoenis Cespedes and others put in direct competition with one another. There could even be an event where players try to circle the bases the fastest, pitting Betts against the likes of Billy Hamilton, Byron Buxton, and Trea Turner, among others.

It’s clear that the Home Run Derby is becoming less and less popular among the best players in the league, the exact players we should want to participate. That’s sad, because at least for me, the Home Run Derby has always been enjoyable to watch, even as the event as evolved over the years.

During the “Brother’s Little Helper” episode in Season 11 of The Simpsons, a crowd surrounded then-Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire, who was attempting to distract them after discovering that Major League Baseball was spying on them with satellites. McGwire said, “Young Bart here was right: We are spying on you, pretty much around the clock.” Bart asked, “But why, Mr. McGwire?” McGwire responded, “Do you want to know the terrifying truth, or do you want to see me sock a few dingers?” The crowd chanted, “Dingers! Dingers! Dingers!”

My sentiments, exactly.

Phillies select active duty Navy aviator in MLB Rule 5 draft

philadelphia phillies
Al Bello/Getty Images
0 Comments

SAN DIEGO — The Philadelphia Phillies took U.S. Navy aviator Noah Song in the Rule 5 draft Wednesday, hoping the former top pitching prospect can still be effective once he completes his military service.

There is no definitive date on when the 25-year-old Song might be able to join the Phillies.

Song was picked from the Boston Red Sox system in the draft for unprotected minor league players. Philadelphia put him on the military list while he continues his active duty and he won’t count on the 40-man roster, the pool from which major league teams can select players for the 26-man active roster.

Song impressed in his only pro season, making seven starts for Boston’s Class A Lowell affiliate in 2019, with a 1.06 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 17 innings. With a fastball clocked in the upper 90s mph, the right-hander dominated that year as a senior at the U.S. Naval Academy, going 11-1 with a 1.44 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 94 innings.

The Red Sox drafted Song in the fourth round – he likely would’ve gone much higher, but his impending military service caused teams to back off.

In November 2019, Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed a memo clearing the way for athletes at the nation’s military academies to delay their service commitments and play pro sports after graduation. Song’s request to have those new rules retroactively applied to his case was denied.

Song began school as a flight officer in the summer of 2020 and finished that phase last April. He started additional aviation training in May.

Song was among the 15 players, including three Boston pitchers, taken in the big league phase of the Rule 5 draft, which wasn’t held last year because of the MLB lockout.

Washington took righty Thad Ward from Boston’s Triple-A roster with the first pick. Baltimore took Red Sox minor league pitcher Andrew Politi with the ninth choice and the Phillies chose Song with the 11th selection.

Teams pay $100,000 to take players in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft. The players must stay on the big league roster next season or go on waivers and, if unclaimed, be offered back to their original organization for $50,000.