During an afternoon of competing news conferences, baseball commissioner Rob Manfred and players union chief Tony Clark found one thing they could enthusiastically agree upon.
Monday night’s Home Run Derby was an unqualified success.
Clark wasted no time countering the notion that the event is waning in popularity among the players, though only two of the game’s top 10 home run hitters at the break agreed to take part in it.
“Before the Home Run Derby [last year], did fans know who Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge were?” he asked. “The answer is yes. After the Derby [this year], more people are going to know Rhys Hoskins, Max Muncy, Jesus Aguilar, any of those guys. The event was phenomenal.”
Manfred went even further in his praise of the event, which featured a dramatic comeback by Washington Nationals superstar Bryce Harper, who out-homered Chicago Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber, 19-18, in the final round.,
“Bryce Harper put on one unbelievable show,’’ Manfred said. “Amazing how he engaged the fans are here in his hometown, but I think it’s important not to overlook the overall performance.
“Since we went to the timed format in 2015, we hit 18 more home runs last night than had ever been hit in this format. It was really a lot of different guys putting on a great show...It was a great show, really good for the sport.”
All that said, MLB needs to find a way to make it more attractive to the game's elite power guys.
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.