HR Derby could define All-Star Game

NEW YORK — If the next Major League Baseball All-Star Game drags on late into the night, a slugger might have a chance to settle it with a hit — in a Home Run Derby.

Correct. The definition in extra innings goes, goes and goes.

Instead of those extra innings, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Shohei Ohtani, Fernando Tatis Jr., Bryce Harper and the other big sluggers could show up in the midseason classic to settle it.

For, buried within the 182-page memorandum of understanding signed Thursday by Major League Baseball and the players’ union is a radically new method of potentially defining the game.

“If the All-Star Game is still tied after nine innings, it will be decided by a Home Run Derby between the teams, subject to agreement between the parties on the details and format,” says section 13.

That part of the agreement is titled “Tentative Agreement — All-Star Game and Home Run Derby.”

And several fans will be interested in this: As part of the overall agreement, “the parties agree to discuss further details and logistics of a potential mid-All-Star concert.”

There will also be a new international touch in Major League Baseball — a regular-season game to be held in Paris in 2025.

Dated March 1 and obtained by The Associated Press, the page on the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game was signed by Major League Baseball’s lead attorney Kasey Sanossian and players’ union deputy chief legal officer Matt Nussbaum.

It’s part of the deal that ended Major League Baseball’s 99-day layoff and allowed preseason camps to open.

This year’s All-Star Game will take place on July 19 at Dodger Stadium. It was awarded to Los Angeles after the 2020 edition was canceled due to the pandemic.

On 13 occasions since 1933, when it began, the All-Star Game has gone to extra innings. The last two times were in 2017, in Miami, and in 2018, in Washington.

The lack of pitchers in those circumstances has become a problem. Managers try to get as many pitchers into the game as possible by the time the ninth inning rolls around.

The Home Run Derby, held the night before the All-Star Game each year, has become one of the most popular events in Major League Baseball. The signed agreement does not mention changes in said event.

The commissioner gained the ability to add a 33rd player to each league’s All-Star roster, “in recognition of each player’s career achievements.” He could add more than one player “if special circumstances warrant.”

In other sections of the agreement:

The parties agreed to hold regular season games in Mexico City each May from 2023-26; in London, in June 2023, 24 and 26; in Paris, in June 2025, and in San Juan, in September 2025 and 26.

An inaugural series of the campaign is planned for Asia in 2024. There will be one specifically in Tokyo a year later.

Preseason games in Puerto Rico and/or the Dominican Republic are planned for 2024, as well as editions of the World Baseball Classic in 2023 and 26.

There are tours planned for South Korea and Taiwan this year and for Latin America in 2023.

Players will receive $70,000 each for regular season events in Europe and Asia, and $20,000 for going to Latin America.

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HR Derby could define All-Star Game