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

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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.

Reds to interview John Farrell

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MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports that the Reds will interview John Farrell as the club attempts to find a full-time manager. Dick Williams, the Reds’ president of baseball operations, has already interviewed Pat Kelly, Billy Hatcher, and Freddie Benavides. Interim manager Jim Riggleman will be interviewed after the season. Williams clarified that Barry Larkin is not a candidate. Per C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic, Williams hopes to have a new manager in place by the end of October.

The Reds got off to an abysmal 3-15 start, prompting the organization to fire Bryan Price. Riggleman took over in his place and the team seemed to respond, playing .500 ball under his leadership through the end of June. The club eventually fell back to earth, going 9-19 in August and is currently 9-13 in September.

Farrell, 56, managed the Blue Jays for two seasons in 2011-12, then took over at the helm of the Red Sox between 2013-17. The Red Sox won the World Series in 2013 and made the playoffs in three of his five seasons in Boston.