Happy Thursday, Athletics Nation!
We are a week away from Opening Day, the A’s beat the Reds yesterday, and the world of baseball is moving along full swing. As a way to draw more people into that world, yesterday MLB unveiled the brand new event Home Run Derby X.
Not part of the regular season or even played in MLB parks, Home Run Derby X is an amped up version of the derby played right before the All-Star Game. As detailed by Joon Lee in ESPN, there will be four competing teams, representing the Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs. Each team will consist of a former MLB player, a rookie from their respective team’s development system, a softball or women’s baseball star, and wild card content creator. Of note, former A’s Nick Swisher, Jonny Gomes, and Geovany Soto will be participating on the Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs teams respectively.
The tournament will be played in some non-traditional places for baseball and on a non-traditional field. Derbies are set to take place in London, Seoul, and Mexico City throughout 2022. Each location will feature a field with much thinner dimensions than those in the majors, with the left and right field boundaries each stretching out only 45 degrees from home plate, and outfield walls reaching between 260 to 320 feet from home.
There are plenty more quirks to the field outside of the dimensions. Both the batter’s box and the pitcher’s mound will be on raised platforms above the rest of the field. Batters will have two raised targets in the infield, and another pair to aim at past the center field fence. Lastly and potentially most notably, there is a defensive component of HRDX, with non-batting teams attempting to catch the balls that don’t make it over the fence to contribute to their team’s score.
It’s an interesting concept that should prove to be worth checking out if only for novelty’s sake. I do applaud MLB for including softball and women’s baseball players into the mix, as they’re a component of the game globally that doesn’t usually get as much attention from the league. HRDX seems to definitely play into MLB’s plan to get new eyes (especially the coveted ones of the TikTok crowd) on the sport: fans of content creators, international attendees who don’t have a local pro team, and those who just see the inevitable social media explosion these events tend to create. While it isn’t capital-B baseball, it should be a fun spin on the game that may get fresh fans to pay attention to the sport as a whole.
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Best of Twitter
Don’t Expect Ramon in RF once he starts his season in May
Ramón Laureano has played his last few CL games in right field. Mark Kotsay said that's so the A's can get looks at other players in center given Laureano won't open with the team, not aimed at looking at Laureano in right.— Matt Kawahara (@matthewkawahara) March 30, 2022
Manaea’s got that movement
Sean Manaea, Wicked Slider. pic.twitter.com/vtwXeLuJHw— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 30, 2022
Irvin is swervin’
Cole Irvin, Wicked Breaking Ball. pic.twitter.com/1UVr4oU241— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 30, 2022
Kaprielian wants to bat. I say let him!
The Spaceman having some fun with the Savannah Bananas
75-year-old Red Sox Hall of Famer, Bill Lee, came down from the stands with a beer in hand and then proceeded to strike somebody out. Power move. pic.twitter.com/BTNsoepjuU— Savannah Bananas (@TheSavBananas) March 30, 2022
Happy birthday, Hammer!
Have always loved the fact that in 1978, Oakland A's manager Bobby Winkles quit the team, in part due to 16 year-old MC Hammer—who celebrates his 60th birthday today. pic.twitter.com/oVUGT0QKWB— Todd Radom (@ToddRadom) March 30, 2022
Absolutely wish that this was me. It’s snowed twice this week where I live.