With the game and festivities held in Kansas City this year, there was much buzz that the team would send more than one player to the game for the first time since 2003 (Mike Sweeney and Mike MacDougal). When that didn’t happen, the disenchantment quickly turned into cheers as it was revealed that Billy Butler was selected to represent the Royals in his first All-Star appearance.
While there were others deserving of the honor [third baseman Mike Moustakas, shortstop Alcides Escobar, reliever Tim Collins and closer Jonathan Broxton, (who is part of the online fan vote)], it is only fitting that Butler got the nod.
The long-tenured Royal is synonymous with baseball in Kansas City and will draw the loudest cheer of any player at the game this year.
Butler will be a spectator in his home stadium until manager Ron Washington decides to hopefully use him as a pinch hitter late in the game. However, American League Home Run Derby captain Robinson Cano said last month that he would select a Royal for the event, so Butler was supposed to be the center of attention for at least that moment.
Instead, Cano went back on his word.
Butler will now be a spectator as Cano, Jose Bautista, Mark Trumbo and Prince Fielder (who Butler has more home runs than this season) launch lasers into the water spectacular and blast balls off the Royals Hall of Fame in left field.
Why players are given the power to choose who will participate in the Home Run Derby is a great question. But wouldn’t it seem logical to cater to the hometown crowd as much as possible?
While MLB will benefit from having the bigger names involved, sometimes doing someone a solid is the right thing to do, even if that means losing a little luster off the mass appeal.
With so much riding on the Royals' future this season, and 2012 being “Our Time” and serving as the stepping stone into contention as early as next year, having Butler ride the pine during the Home Run Derby is a slap in the face and solidifies Kansas City's stake in mediocrity among the MLB landscape.