And now, the moment only the masochistic among you have been waiting for, the Home Run Derby:
The 2009 State Farm Home Run Derby field was finalized on Sunday, when American League home run leader Carlos Pena was named to replace the Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia on the AL roster for Tuesday's All-Star Game and as the fourth AL entrant in the Derby . . . Pena joins Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge, Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz and Twins catcher Joe Mauer from the Junior Circuit, and the National League features big league homer leader, hometown hero and All-Star centerpiece Albert Pujols of the Cardinals, plus Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres, Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard of the Phillies.
I just can't stand the derby. It's tedious. It's repetitive. It gets worse as it goes on because guys get tired. It's just really not my cup of tea. But worst of all, it features Chris Berman calling each and every shot, and that's ninth circle of hell stuff. This year even more so, because I recently discovered that, in addition to being annoying, his "back, back, back" business is both (a) stolen; and (b) wrong. I read this last week while doing some research on fabled Dodgers and Yankees broadcaster Red Barber:
A number of play-by-play announcers, including Chris Berman, picked up on his use of "back, back, back" to describe a long fly ball with potential to be a home run. Oddly, those other announcers are describing the flight of the ball, whereas Barber was describing the outfielder, in this famous call from Game 6 of the 1947 World Series with Joe DiMaggio at bat: "Here's the pitch, swung on, belted... it's a long one... back goes Gionfriddo, back, back, back, back, back, back... heeee makes a one-handed catch against the bullpen! Oh, Doctor!"
Which makes sense when you think about it because the ball, as far as it's concerned anyway, is going forward. It's the outfielder who is going back.
Either way, fine Berman, steal from Red Barber if you must. But at least steal correctly. There are no outfielders making plays on the ball at the Home Run Derby, so there shouldn't be any "back, back, backs." If you agree to drop that tired, stolen and inaccurate shtick, I'll agree to watch your little exhibition. Deal?