Does MLB hate fun, or just pretend to as a marketing strategy?

  What the s*** is this?

What the s*** is this?

I could try to take heart in that this ballot doesn't promise to actually determine who participates in the Home Run Derby, but since it represents who the MLB thinks fans want to see, there's only so much comfort.

There are some obvious problems going on here. They have placed on the ballot--for a power-hitting contest--players who struggle to hit for power (David Wright, Joe Mauer), hit for unremarkable power (Jason Heyward, Carlos Beltran), or have just been hurt for more than long enough for someone to adjust this darn list (Prince Fielder).

Jose Abreu's absence--while baffling--since he's become a league-wide sensation purely for being good at hitting home runs, isn't as bothering to me as the general approach to this list. Which is more to say, having Abreu on wouldn't fix this list.

Last year, MLB had a guy who was having a season that in no way justified him being at All-Star Weekend other than he would be really awesome at the Home Run Derby.

So they invited him--Yoenis Cespedes--to the Home Run Derby, and he was amazing, and the lesson MLB seems to have taken away from this encounter is seems to be limited to: invite Yoenis Cespedes.

Of course, this presumes they were even aware Cespedes was having a bad 2013 in the first place. The event is no more than a batting practice show, and the MLB is convinced that collecting the guys who would put together the best batting practice show isn't going to make for a very marketable event.

Instead, they just target traditionally successful hitters with name notoriety, because they lack the confidence in a marquee event during All-Star Weekend, when they're not competing with any other major sport for eyeballs. Rather then give fans the opportunity to marvel at the hidden 80-power tools of the league like Chris Carter, or acknowledge that it would be better to watch someone like Evan Gattis crank dingers than Heyward, or watch anyone on the Twins than Mauer to try to hit home runs, MLB fears that fans will need the presence of David Wright, the guy their league's loathsome contest told them was the most visible player, just to get through the drudgery of it all.

It's definitely not ideal to have to introduce the entire viewership to a guy before he steps up to hit 500-foot bombs, and it would be best if every member of the lineup was Giancarlo Stanton--super popular and also uniquely skilled for the job--but that it isn't case. And rather than trust Stanton to carry the bill for other mashers, MLB panics and fills out the lineup with some of the 25 or so guys in the league they actually bother to promote. The NBA has the same problem filling out a Slam Dunk Contest slate, but when LeBron James cancels on them, they don't replace him with Tim Duncan.

 

Follow The Catbird Seat on Twitter @TheCatbird_Seat