One of the things that most concerned me when I turned on Monday night's MLB Home Run Derby was that the new rules would be too complicated to follow. And honestly? I probably wouldn't have paid much attention to if two Cubs, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, hadn't been participants. That wasn't the case at all. The new timed Derby was actually easy to follow and made the competition more exciting, with the Reds' Todd Frazier winning on a "walkoff" of sorts, hitting the winning homer with time expiring on the clock.
Who says clocks don't have a place in baseball? In this event, at least, they made for compelling viewing.
There's one thing MLB is going to have to change in this event in the future, I think, to make it more fair to all the participants. In every round but one, the batter hitting last won the round. It seems to me that hitting last provides a real advantage, as the man going last knows exactly how many home runs he needs to win the round, so he can pace himself.
There are a number of ways to do this; here's my suggestion.
Keep the timing the same -- four minutes per hitter per round. Have the first hitter take two minutes, then the second hitter two minutes. They then take a break -- perfect time for commercials! -- and then the second hitter takes another two minutes, followed by the first hitter for two minutes to end the round.
Now, you'll say that this would again provide a hitter with an advantage of sorts, because then the first hitter would know exactly how many home runs he needs to hit in order to win the round. This might be a problem inherent in having timed rounds, though.
Give MLB credit for finding a way to make this event more exciting. If they tweak it just a little bit, it could be must-see TV going forward. (And can we please retire Chris Berman from it?)