Kyle Smedley is a journalism and telecommunications major and writes for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.
298 home runs later, it’s official that Major League Baseball (MLB)’s All-Star Week is the best in all of major professional sports. Not that I needed much convincing, because the Home Run Derby is just one part of what makes MLB All-Star Week so great.
Watching 21-year-old rookie Julio Rodríguez hit a combined 81 home runs through three rounds is unprecedented. What’s all the more incredible is that the Seattle Mariners outfielder didn’t win the Derby, instead going to 23-year-old Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto (52 total HR).
The future of the MLB was on full display during the finals of the Home Run Derby, and the past got its moment to shine as 42-year-old St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols hit 35 home runs, just missing out on advancing to the finals. Pujols' fifth and final Derby was a reminder to everyone that No. 5 is one of the best to ever play the game.
In the Home Run Derby, fans see towering home runs, the game’s best power hitters go head-to-head and many matchups that come down to the final swing. Though the 2022 Home Run Derby may not have been the best ever, it still proved how special the talent of the MLB is, how fun watching people hit long balls is and how great MLB All-Star Week is.
“In the future, would you rather cover the NBA Dunk Contest and Three-Point Contest, the NFL Skills Competition or the Home Run Derby,” my stepdad asked me while I watched baseballs fly all over Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.
It was an easy response.
“The Home Run Derby,” I said emphatically.
Which leads right into my point.
“Would you rather cover the NBA All-Star Game, NFL Pro Bowl or the MLB All-Star Game,” my stepdad asked.
There was only one possible answer.
“The MLB All-Star Game,” I said confidently.
Despite its many flaws, the MLB has always been my favorite professional sports league. It doesn’t matter that I disagree with the rule changes sometimes or that the Cincinnati Reds break my heart all the time, this has remained true for over a decade.
Such a big part of that is All-Star Week. Other than the Derby, so many things make MLB All-Star Week special.
Part of it is the build-up. Voting for either your favorite players or most deserving players to have a chance to represent their ball club in the All-Star Game is always fun and builds anticipation, although I wish the MLB still made paper ballots to fill out at the ballpark instead of going fully digital (understandably so).
Part of it is the MLB Draft, a new addition to All-Star Week. This is a massive change for the better, as now that the MLB Draft has moved to All-Star Week, it gets even more eyes to see the best college and high school has to offer be selected by a major league ball club.
2022’s Draft has been extra special for me, as two Ball State Baseball players I had the privilege to cover during the 2022 season, left-handed pitcher Tyler Schweitzer and outfielder Zach Cole were drafted in the fifth and 10th rounds, respectively.
Part of it is the Futures Game. Though under-promoted, if one gets the chance to tune in, the Futures Game is a chance for fans to see the next generation of MLB stars as they showcase their ability on the biggest stage of their young careers.
Part of it is the Celebrity Softball Game. As goofy as this event may be, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a ton of fun tuning in to see which celebrities and former players are participating every year.
Of course, part of it is the collection of phenomenal talent all gathered in one place for the All-Star Game, a sight baseball fans can only see one time a year. From Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout to Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, both first-ballot Hall of Famers one day, and everyone in between, all the stars come out for the Midsummer Classic.
The All-Star Game itself is the pinnacle of major professional sports All-Star Games, as the athletes participating in the game actually compete! Unlike some professional sports All-Star Games, the MLB All-Star Game not only showcases an unbelievable array of talent but said talent (usually) gives it their all and tries to do the best they can for their respective league, team and fans.
Though the contest doesn’t determine whether the American or National League gets home field advantage in the World Series anymore (boooo), the competition has remained consistent, much to my and so many others' delight. To add a cherry on top, it has been announced that should the All-Star Game go to extra innings, instead of playing more baseball (which would be fine by me), each league will send three participants to compete in a Home Run Derby to decide the winner of the game.
The bottom line is I’m darn excited for the MLB All-Star Game, July 19, 2022 at 8 p.m. ET. I was pumped before and now the fallout from the always exciting Home Run Derby has me even more so.
For those who love baseball, I’m sure you feel the same way. For those who don’t, I argue there is no better time to give the game a shot than during the Midsummer Classic.
Contact Kyle Smedley with comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @smedley1932.