ESPN is a frequent and favorite target of sports social media. They have been in the crosshairs of the fans recently when they signed podcaster Pat McAfee to a huge, multi-year deal only to cut several longtime, on-air personalities, But on Monday night, it was the network’s coverage of the 2023 MLB Home Run Derby that drew the lastest douse of disdain.
Announcers Karl Ravech and Eduardo Perez got their fair share of the blame for a blasé broadcast, with lead man Ravech receiving especially brutal treatment from the hate squad. However, it didn’t stop there. There were multiple complaints from viewers about bad camera work and timing during the presentation.
Over the years, the Major League Baseball Home Run Derby has evolved into must-watch TV. It’s even considered by some fans and observers to be more popular and light-hearted than the All-Star Game itself. So, needless to say, for the programming to fall short of their lofty expectations left many fans with a bad taste in their mouth.
And while Ravech’s calls probably weren’t as painful as they were portrayed, it’s clear that ESPN has looked for a true signature voice for the Derby since the legendary Chris Berman stepped away from the duties. For more than two decades, Boomer had been the soundtrack of the show, signing off on every single shot with his signature, “BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK…” call.
The way the show was shot was another issue for viewers. In particular, fans have never warmed up to the split-screen view that ESPN’s production team has heavily employed for several years now. Between that set-up and a lot of quick cuts, there were times that it was difficult to maintain focus on the most important part of the whole shindig: how many massive moon shots were flying out of Lumen Field.
While the rapid-fire and highly-produced nature of the Home Run Derby makes it an almost circus-like atmosphere, the MLB faithful still expect an exciting presentation. And in many of their minds? This was yet another year where the game’s most powerful night at the plate seemed to lack some punch.
As far as the contest itself? First Baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., of the Toronto Blue Jays defeated Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena in the finals. Guerrero Jr.’s win made him and his father Vladimir Guerrero the first father-son duo to win the Derby. The elder Vlad took home the trophy in 2007.