As we say goodbye to Yankee Stadium with this years Home Run Derby, I cannot help but feel a little slighted by the number of non participants. Where are the big names we have come to expect to see blast their way into he night sky, I'm not trashing the current crop this year by any means. I like most of you don't feel as connected to them, or should I say am not salivating over them as we come to in the past. When you have such a momentous occasion like this, the changing of the guard if you will, closing a historical venue like Yankee Stadium you deserve more. How can Alex Rodriguez not participate as one of the few Yankee possible Home Run threats. It's appalling to think an excuse like not wanting to change his batting form could fly in virtually his greatest chance to pay homage to his career with the Yankees. He isn't the only Big time player not putting his mark on history, but at least some like David Ortiz have a legitimate excuse, having just come off the disabled list.
I can recall when just like the NBA slam dunk contest, that the field was loaded with Allstars so many you were bound to watch with great excitement. This Derby isn't for us the adults, it's for every "Tommy and Jimmy" who grow up admiring these players and get a thrill out of seeing them all together on one field showcasing their talents by blasting dreams into the night sky. Baseball should have made an exception this time to allow these children the honor of seeing "their guy" show up even if he wasn't going to actually player in the Allstar Game. No matter the names and faces, it's still about Baseball. It's about the atmosphere surrounding the game itself, and the history of the miracles that once was. As we grow tired of the steroids and the whose not getting into the Hall of Fame, and whose out with the latest "babe," we can hold onto the traditon that keeps us coming back to the game as we once did as a child. We can forget if only for a few hours that these guys aren't here just for the money, and that they are here too for the love of the game. Yes it has to a love affair for someone to sit for perhaps three to four hours watching what most folks would consider a game that moves too slow. I say it is the slowness of the game that makes it unique, it takes you back to a time where not everything had to be in the here and now. It reminds us of cool breezes in the shade and the warm glow of the sun as we smell the green grass that marks the wide open space that allowed us to run free. Never was it more difficult to be called in for dinner or for the darkness of night when you and the boys had a heated game going and the only thing that mattered was who was going to go home first. Nothing else mattered except that we could do it all over again the next day. Oh what a time it was with not a care in the world but the next great game to be had as you emulated your hero as you hit the ball with the flare of giants.
No matter the unfamiliar name at the plate this Home Run Derby, take in the ambiance of the moment. Try to recall the voices of Vin Skully and Joe Gargiola as they made you feel apart of something clearly grand. When these guys tee it off and make you smile and measure the distance the ball went, relax and enjoy the game as it is and as it once was in Yankee Stadium for the last time...The House that Babe Ruth built!!