Home Run Derby 2012: MLB Showcase Trumps the NBA Dunk Contest Every Year

Sam R. QuinnSenior Analyst IIIJuly 9, 2012

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 4:  Infielder Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Yankees bats in the eighth inning  against the Tampa Bay Rays July 4, 2012 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. ano singled and drove in two runs. The Yankees won 4 - 3. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Major League Baseball's Home Run Derby will forever trump the National Basketball Association's Slam Dunk contest every year.

Both have been slapped with sponsor names that take away from the allure of the competition—State Farm Home Run Derby and the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest—but that doesn't make them equal.

The Slam Dunk contest is ridiculous in that the completely wrong players are invited to participate in the competition. 

Jeremy Evans won the 2012 contest. No, not Tyreke Evans, not Reggie Evans, but Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz. His opening dunk was just a bounce-and-slam, possibly one of the most boring dunks in the history of basketball. Evans won the competition when he jumped over Gordon Hayward (who was sitting down) and dunked two balls on one jump.

That's impressive to say the least, but it really isn't that exciting to watch. Nor is it that hard for Evans to do.

Contrast that to Robinson Cano's 32-home run performance in the 2011 Home Run Derby, and it's not even close. Cano battle Adrian Gonzalez from wire-to-wire to win the competition by one home run.

That's what is so great about the Home Run Derby. It's not a popularity contest like the Slam Dunk Contest has become—it's a pure competition that pits the skills of the best players in the world against one another.

The fan vote aspect of the dunk contest makes it unfair. Of course, the most recent dunk contest was hardly a popularity contest because most people had no idea who the four competitors were. Evans, Chase Budinger, Paul George and Derrick Williams are not the group of guys you want in a nationally televised, over-hyped competition.

Just for the record, Evans averaged a whopping 2.1 points and 7.5 minutes per game last season with the Jazz. Who made the decision to put him in the competition? How did they even see enough NBA footage of him to find out that he's a dunker?

The answer is that they had no choice.

The best players in the league frequently decline the offer to participate in the Slam Dunk Contest. LeBron James has never been a part of the dunk contest. Blake Griffin won in 2011 and chose not to return in 2012.

The Home Run Derby is the opposite. Even when a great home run hitter turns the competition down, there's another elite-level power guy ready to step in for him. 

What draws the fans to the Home Run Derby is the difficulty of the competition.

Nearly every single player in the NBA can dunk a ball, and nearly every player in the MLB can hit a home run. The difference is that the best players in baseball hit home runs in less than 10 percent of their at-bats.

Hitting a baseball is the hardest feat in all of sports. The difference between a home run and an infield pop-up is a small as one-sixteenth of an inch.

Vince Carter ruined the Slam Dunk Contest when he broke out every vicious move imaginable.

The main advantage that the Home Run Derby has is that people will forever marvel over a 500-foot home run, but they won't have the same reaction to a dunk.