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Here are five absolutely insane ideas to make the Home Run Derby even more fun

The league office just announced a bunch of rule changes for the 2019 season. There's a bunch of interesting stuff in there, but the one nugget that caught my eye was the $1 million prize for the Home Run Derby champion.

Even though the Derby has been pretty sweet the last few years, the cash reward for winning it all is a pretty good way to incentivize more superstars to give the competition a shot. Looking at you, Mike Trout.

The new wrinkle got me thinking about some other ways to spice up the best part of All-Star Week, so here are five completely wacko ideas for making the Derby even better than it already is.

1. Aluminum Bats

The purpose of the Home Run Derby is to watch baseball dudes launch awe-inspiring shots into the seats. If we're all tuning in to watch balls go as far as possible, let's give these dudes even more help.

Think about Aaron Judge with an old 28-ounce high school bat, or Bryce Harper using something that pings instead of thwacks. Dangerous for sure, you'd need to make sure the child outfielders were in catchers gear or something, but we'd be blessed with some ridiculously monumental taters.

Here's a video we shot with Judge when he was in Triple-A, in which he talks about the damage he would do with an old, souped-up metal bat in his hands.

2. Fan Balls

Being a fan in the outfield at the Derby looks like an awesome time, but let's make it even better. Once per round, there's one ball called the "Fan Ball," where whichever fan catches that ball gets to spend the rest of the Derby in the outfield catching fly balls with all the kids. It would heighten the intensity of fan effort in the stands, make that one pitch a must-watch situation and increase hilarity to see random folks getting after it on the field.

3. Competitive Defense

One of the downsides of the Derby in its current structure is that it only features one competitor at a time on screen. Let's fix that: While a hitter hits, all the other participants are allowed to stand along the outfield fence and rob home runs. If someone robs a home run, they get to add that homer to their total. Standing on people's shoulders or standing on the fence to rob even more dingers isn't just allowed, it's encouraged. Just imagine Mookie Betts pulling back a Rhys Hoskins tater to win the whole Derby, that'd be so sick.

4. "Ruth Zones"

Arguably the most badass moment in baseball history was when Babe Ruth called his shot in the 1932 World Series. To bring that energy to the Derby, once each round the hitter will be able to call their own shot. They'll select a certain landmark beyond the fence -- it could be a particular billboard, or scoreboard, or the bullpen, whatever -- and if they follow through and hit a tater there, they'll get credit for three homers.

5. Inside The Park Opportunities

Obviously the point of the Derby is to showcase dudes with tremendous power, but what if we made speed a part of the equation as well? Once per round, on a ball the hitter didn't hit over the fence, they'd be allowed to try and make it a homer by racing around the bases. The defenders in the outfield -- which at this point includes random fans (Rule 2), other Derby competitors (Rule 3) and the usual assortment of uncoordinated children -- would be tasked with retrieving the ball ASAP and trying to throw the guy out at home. Taters and bang-bang plays at the plate? Sign me up.

austin hays reax
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