Chicks dig the longball. At least that’s what a Nike ad campaign told us years ago and the phrase seems to have stuck.
It’s not just chicks who love it though. Television viewers and casual baseball fans have fallen for the longball’s charms over the years. That’s why the Homerun Derby has become arguably the most important part of Major League Baseball’s All-Star festivities.
Just because it’s a fan favorite though doesn’t mean it’s great for everyone involved. It’s an event that has been known to screw up a players swing the way Amanda Bynes has screwed up her life, colossally. In turn, can have an adverse affect on a pennant race.
That’s why the anger Diamondbacks fans have about Paul Goldschmidt being “snubbed” by David Wright and left off the NL Homerun Derby team is misplaced. Don’t get me wrong, I love the passion that fans bring to the table and did when Justin Upton faced a similar situation thanks to Prince Fielder. The problem is, they’re showing their passion like Nic Cage playing a cocaine addict.
It probably comes down to this, as Phoenix sports fans we could use a psychologist more than Honey Boo Boo. We’re used to feeling disrespected and being the underdog.
Goldschmidt not being in the Homerun Derby is a blessing in disguise. Even if Heath Bell were throwing to him — and who hasn’t gotten big hits off of him this year? — hitting in that situation makes players alter their swing to get the more pop off the bat. The way Paul has been playing this season it would be a travesty to see him change even the slightest bit of his mechanics, especially in a meaningless exhibition.
It probably comes down to this, as Phoenix sports fans we could use a psychologist more than Honey Boo Boo. We’re used to feeling disrespected and being the underdog. It’s an inferiority complex that we carry around with us as if it’s some sort of a badge of honor. Sometimes that comes out in irrational — or sometimes warranted — anger towards our favorite franchises other times it is channeled into an immense hatred for athletes who have slighted us. (See: John Paxson, Robert Horry, the 1990s Cowboys and the aforementioned Fielder among others.)
This year’s Homerun Derby is just another example of that.
Instead of celebrating Goldschmidt’s inclusion in the All-Star game itself fans found a way to make it about what he didn’t get. The important thing is he is being recognized for the fantastic season he’s putting together. He’s an emerging superstar in baseball and could truly grow into America’s first baseman, especially if he has a monster game in the mid-summer classic. The national stage is his on Tuesday and what he does there could actually have an impact on something much more important than how many homeruns he could hit in glorified batting practice. If he helps the NL win it could have an impact on the D-backs chase for a championship because “this time it counts” whether it should or not (although, that’s a debate for another day).
Chicks may dig the longball, but in Phoenix fans love a winner. If Goldschmidt missing the Derby can help accomplish that, it’s well worth it. And hey, maybe we’ll get to see local fans mercilessly boo David Wright next time he comes to the Valley. Which is a win for everyone watching.