I'll be honest: I would love to see Josh Hamilton try to mash balls over the huge Kansas City videoboard at the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game. But the slugger is right to decline the invitation.
Hamilton's priority has to be his health. No. 1, a healthy Hamilton gives the Texas Rangers their best shot at returning to the World Series and winning it this time. And that's Hamilton's top goal. But he's also in position to hit the open market and reap major financial rewards. Why risk having the Home Run Derby alter your swing? Why risk taking so many hard swings that you pull something?
It's not selfish to say no, it's just smart.
“No, it didn’t hurt in 2008, but it takes one swing (to get hurt),” Hamilton said to reporters in Oakland. You can read the full story here. “You’ve got to be smart about it. I understand that I play major league baseball, but I work for the Texas Rangers. I understand they need me healthy and I want to be healthy. I would love to go out and hit as many home runs as I can. I enjoy doing it. I have fun doing it, but it’s not fair to go out there and do something for myself and possibly get injured.”
Bingo. Hamilton is right. And as fun as it would be to see him try to live up to his 2008 Home Run Derby performance at Yankee Stadium, the right call for him is to enjoy the evening as a spectator. Then, of course, his mission is to have a solid second half and try to help his team reach lofty heights.