Grady Sizemore has been one of the few bright spots in a surprisingly miserable season for the Indians but the 25-year-old center fielder will be creating some much-needed excitement for Tribe fans Monday night at Yankee Stadium when he competes in Home Run Derby.
Sizemore, who led the American League in home runs with 22 heading into Thursday's action, should do well. Yankee Stadium is tailored for left-handed hitters. It's only 314 feet to the foul pole in right field and only 353 feet to the fence in straightaway right.
Sizemore will be participating in Home Run Derby for the first time but Tuesday night he's available to play in his third straight All-Star contest and hoping for his first hit after going 0-for-3.
For the first time in its 23 years, Home Run Derby will be held at Yankee Stadium which will be torn down after this season.
Babe Ruth made the home run forever famous there and launched an ever-growing infatuation with the circuit clout.
Those monuments in deepest left-center field honor three of the games' greatest sluggers - Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Mickey Mantle. Nobody, not even Barry Bonds, were better at blasting the ball beyond the fence even though some statistics say otherwise.
Unfortunately, many of the most powerful hitters in the game won't be participating in the contest Monday night.
More than likely a left-hand hitter will win the prize because of the short right.
For right-handed power batters, the stadium can be a nightmare. It's only 318 feet to the foul pole in left but the fence breaks out to 399 feet in the left field power alley. It's called "Death Valley" for right-handed sluggers.
But it used to be worse before the stadium was renovated in the 1970s. Previously, it was 415 feet to the fence in the left field power alley.
The great Joe DiMaggio, who swung from the right side, lost an untold number of homers on long drives to left and left-center. The switch-hitting Mantle, too, when he batted from the right side.
Ruth had a short target in right field (295) but he used the whole field and in his day deep right-center was 425, center 490, left-center 460, and straightaway left 395.
But Ruth doesn't own the longest homer, officially, at the stadium. Mantle missed by inches of hitting the ball over the right field roof and the 500-foot-plus shot was hit well toward right-center. Some say the ball would have traveled more than 600 feet had it not banged off the facade which now is displayed in center field.
Josh Gibson, the greatest Negro League slugger, is said to be the only person to hit a fair ball out of the stadium. He did it in left.
The Angels' Vladimir Gurrero won last year's derby in San Francisco. He won't defend his title.
The Yankees' Bobby Abreu won it 2005 in Detroit when he was a Phillie by slamming a record 41 homers, including a record single-round of 24.
Bill Robinson is a former Marietta Times sports editor.