Fans across the world vote for Royals for All-Star Game

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JULY 2015 – I’m sure American League All-Star managers were scratching their heads many years in the 1990s and 2000s and wondering what Kansas City Royals player to put on the team.

There some baaaad Royals clubs in many of those years and quite frankly they did not deserve an All-Star selection. But Major League Baseball requires all clubs to have a representative.

From 1990-2012, the Royals had a lone pick in 20 of those 22 years. Only in 2000 – Jermaine Dye and Mike Sweeney and 2003 – Mike MacDougal and Sweeney – did the Royals have more than one.

There were some unmerited Royals’ All-Stars in those years. Who could forget first baseman Ken Harvey in 2004 and left-hander Mark Redman in 2006? Well, they are pretty forgettable All-Stars. Aaron Crow, who was selected in his rookie season in 2011, could fall into that category.

My how times have changed. There will be a boatload of Royals, including manager Ned Yost and his staff, bound for Cincinnati and the All-Star Game this July.

But the surprise has been in the voting. The Royals, who were showcased last October in the World Series after sweeping Oakland, Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore in the American League playoffs.

Royals unknown to most of the nation suddenly became America’s darlings, i.e. Lorenzo Cain. They went from nonentities to overnight celebrities after spending nearly a month on national television.

With just three days left in the balloting, the Royals had five players who would be starting from the fans voting: catcher Salvador Perez, a two-time All-Star, second baseman Omar Infante, shortstop Alcides Escobar and outfielders Cain and Alex Gordon (who is now injured). It appeared doubtful Infante could hold off Jose Atuve of the Houston Astros. While I like Infante, quite frankly he is not putting up All-Star numbers, while Atuve and Jason Kipnis of the Cleveland Indians are.

surplusexchange.orgBesides those five, the Royals have three players second in the balloting. First baseman Eric Hosmer dropped behind Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers. Third baseman Josh Donaldson of the Toronto Blue Jays surpassed Mike Moustakas, who is producing All-Star caliber numbers, but not as strong as Donaldson’s. Designated hitter Kendrys Morales trailed Nelson Cruz of the Seattle Mariners in a race too tight to call.

Beyond the starters and reserves, I would anticipate Yost would select Wade Davis and probably Greg Holland from his bullpen, which is the best in the majors.

Kansas City may have been stuffing the ballot boxes, taking the Chicago directive: vote early and vote often. But it exceeds the readership area of Kansas City Sports and Fitness Magazine.

“These players, the way they played the game, the respect they have for the fans and the respect they have for the game, earned a lot of credibility,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said from their post-season play. “So it’s just not fans throughout Kansas City or the Midwest, but fans throughout the world.

“I’m proud of what they have accomplished and how they’ve represented the game and the Kansas City Royals.

“I think it’s great. I really do. I think it’s great for our players, great for our city, great for our fans. That’s the system we have in place.”

At one time in June eight Royals and Mike Trout of the Angels led the voting. Of course, eight Royals will not be starting in the game at the Great American Ball Park, but it did stir up some intriguing discussions.

“There has always been a controversy – not controversy – but debate on who should start the All-Star Game, who is voted in, who is deserving. That’s what makes our game fun – it’s debate,” Moore said. “We all have our favorites, our opinions. They are to be respected, certainly analyzed, but to be respected.

“The fans are why we do this. The fans in this case have the final say. And you respect the process. It’s a democracy, right?”

Would it be great for the game, say if Infante would start over Atuve and Kipnis?

“If the fans say it is and that’s the process in place, you just respect it,” Moore said. “I think it just speaks volumes to our great fans.”

Yost said if the Houston and Cleveland fans don’t like Infante leading, then go vote for their man.

“I keep telling every radio interview I do, vote, vote, vote,” Yost said. “And not only Royals fans, but Indians fans, Houston fans, Angels fans — vote.

“That’s what it’s there for, get out and vote. But our fans have done a great job with it.”

It is a meaningful All-Star Game for whatever league wins will acquire World Series home-field advantage. That could be vastly important to the Royals, who are leading the AL Central, if they repeat as AL champs. Game Seven last year was at Kauffman Stadium because the AL won the All-Star game in July.

“We know how important it is,” Yost said. “It was important to us last year and it’s going to be important to someone in that locker room this year. We’re going to do all we can to put forth the best team and win the All-Star game.”

Article by Alan Eskew

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