Ichiro, Polanco To Headline Newest All-Star Event

Joe GSenior Writer IJuly 3, 2008

Ichiro Suzuki and Placido Polanco are headlining MLB's newest All-Star event, the Century 21 Opposite Field Singles Derby.

The Derby will offer a counterpoint to the fan-favorite Home Run Derby. It gives hitters a chance to showcase their fundamentally sound swings and plate discipline.

"For too long, the All-Star break has ignored hitters who are consistently called upon to move runners up, or execute a hit-and-run," commissioner Bud Selig said.

Former Baltimore Orioles leadoff hitter Brady Anderson agreed.

"Skyrocketing home run totals glorify the longball and make kids want to take steroids. This will show kids that a sweetly struck line-drive can be just as effective."

It must be noted, however, that Anderson hit 50 home runs in 1996, and never approached that number again. Leadoff hitters are not supposed to do that.

MLB executives are slightly worried that the new event won't have the same draw as the Home Run Derby, but see their responsibility to promote solid fundamentals as more important.

Alex Rodriguez wishes he had this option growing up.

Rodriguez, who recently withdrew from this year's Home Run Derby, said that purposely swinging for the fences can ruin a swing for weeks, even months.

"Parents should be concerned about their kids' unsound swings," Rodriguez said, "If the kids aren't well-rounded, they won't be able to support their parents and allow them to retire early."

Bud Selig said other events have been considered for the All-Star break, including a bunt-single derby, sac fly shootout, and groin-adjusting contest.

Other hitters scheduled to participate are Chone Figgins and Dustin Pedroia.