Yeah, the HR Derby has become just like any other All-Star activity in every other sport:
Everyone wants to go; no one wants to play.
Players love the accolades, but to actually participate in the game (even though it supposedly "means something"
) is something they don't want to do. They don't want to get hurt, they don't get paid for it (unless they have stipulations in a contract, and even then it isn't a whole lot), and there's no appeal to the actual game outside of baseball purists.
The HR derby used to be cool back in the old days, like the ones they show on ESPN Classic. Of course, those guys got paid to play in that also (and back then $1,000 was a lot), but at least the best players participated.
If the players don't want to play, I suppose that's their prerogative, but it doesn't advance the sport any. The casual fans that baseball is always trying to bring back are given a bad impression of the players and game because of it.
The big-name guys should be thankful to the league for giving them those millions of dollars. Doing the HR Derby should be the least they could do to help bring attention to the game. The fans help pay their salaries, you know.
Oh, and go Jason Bay.