Ah, but howwww long were they? Who the heck really knows? Some math genius might have estimated them at, like, 537 feet. But how does anyone know for sure?
"Let me ask you something," Donnelly says. "In the next Olympics, you think anybody is going to say: 'Let's have the shot put and throw it into the bleachers?' Or: 'Let's throw that javelin into the upper deck and estimate it would have gone 72 feet?' Or: 'Let's all broad-jump into the bleachers, and say, 'Well, he would have gone five extra feet if he hadn't landed on Mrs. McGillicuddy in the second row?'"
"Come on. They'd never do that. But that's how silly this is."
So all Donnelly asks is this: Move the Derby to a place where we'll know exactly how far the home runs travel -- to the mysterious Bonneville Salt Flats.
We're not sure what goes on at those salt flats when somebody isn't trying to test-drive a race car at about 312 miles an hour. But it appears to be a locale with lots and lots of open space. And that's just the kind of place Donnelly is looking for.
"I want to see a Home Run Derby with no outfield bleachers, so we don't have to estimate," Donnelly says. "You know those guys from the Olympics who go out there in their white lab coats, with their little hats, and measure the shot put? I want to have them run out and go, 'Sammy Sosa, 543 feet.' Then you'd know. You wouldn't need one of those computer nerds in the press box figuring out where it would have hit. You just measure where it lands. And after that, you could measure how far it rolls."
We should point out, in fairness, that this year's Derby is being held in a park next to a body of water. So this is one year when we will see some home runs that don't clatter off a bleacher occupant.
"But what's that mean?" Donnelly retorts. "You've got to put on a life preserver to measure it? Come on. That's no good."
Yeah, well, it's not all bad, either. We figure the scenery ought to be better than the salt flats. And the climate ought to be way better. And the food ought to be an upgrade, too, although it might not be as easy to find a salt shaker.
Now, is the sentiment behind this proposal solid? Absolutely. We're all for it. Somehow, though, we have a feeling we know the one obstacle that will keep this idea from becoming the people's choice:
That 700-mile commute to the nearest All-Star party just isn't going to work.
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.