Alternate headline: I guess the MLBPA has significant input on the Home Run Derby for some reason?
It was never going to happen. The Giants were too wary, the concept was too radical, and for all of our biased fever dreams, Madison Bumgarner probably isn’t one of the best 50 home run hitters in the National League, much less best five. As such, he’s not going to be in the 2016 Home Run Derby. Alas. Alas. Alas.
The ultimate reason that Bumgarner won’t participate, though, is somewhat stunning:
Bumgarner will not do All-Star HR Derby. Bochy said it was nixed at union's lobbying.— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) July 1, 2016
The Major League Baseball Player’s Association had opinions about the Home Run Derby. I ... wait ... how? Why?
"The Players Union doesn't want a pitcher taking a player's spot and I don't think they were keen on the pitchers thing this year," Bochy said.
Imagine being a hitter upset that he isn’t in the Home Run Derby. Imagine being a hitter upset that he isn’t in the Home Run Derby and resentful that a pitcher took his spot. Imagine that hitter thinking, "WHERE WAS MY UNION ON THIS?"
I can’t imagine it. It’s too farfetched. It would require the thinnest skin possible from the player, combined with the out-of-nowhere belief that the MLBPA should give a single crap about the Home Run Derby. That player does not exist. That is a phantom player who does not need protection. This is all so strange.
Update: Someone suggested that the MLBPA cares because there are players who get a bonus for appearing in the Derby. After searching all 30 teams on Cot's Contracts, I can't find one. That doesn't mean we know for sure that a clause like that doesn't exist, but Cot's is pretty thorough. For example, we know how many seasons tickets Ryan Howard can buy in Philadelphia every year (eight) and how many suites Albert Pujols' charity gets at Angels games every year (10).
It’s possible that the MLBPA expressed just a smidgen of hesitation, and that was all Bruce Bochy needed to not look like the bad guy. If that was the case, I respect the heck out of that. Those would be some serious political chops, and they would deserve a hearty round of applause. Make a faceless organization look like bozos, you have a team to run.
While I was absolutely for Bumgarner in the Derby, this is the fourth straight year where I’m more disappointed about Hunter Pence not being involved than anything else. Where is the MLBPA on hamstrings being jerks? A day late and a dollar short, just like they always are.
I never bought the argument against the Derby that it was too much of a risk. Listen to this brilliant mind at work yesterday on the radio (about 8:30 in).
I’m for (Bumgarner being in the Home Run Derby.) I think there’s more potential for injury tonight and running the bases, then there is taking batting practice ... if Bumgarner’s trying to leg out a double, that’s inherently more dangerous than sitting in batting practice against a coach he’s familiar with.
Four hours later, Bumgarner was choogling around first base, trying to leg out a double. He just likes playing baseball! Let the man play baseball and thrill his fans.
His vast, vast network of completely smitten fans, who would absolutely revel in his inclusion in a Home Run Derby.
The dream is dead. Long live the dream. There isn’t going to be a Bumgarner victory in the Home Run Derby because the MLBPA cares for some reason. Enjoy your Trevor Story, America! Enjoy your Trevor Story, and remember to tell your children about the time you saw him hit four homers in the first round of the Home Run Derby.