Fans at the All-Star Game festivities in Kansas City had an opportunity of a lifetime. AL Home Run Derby captain Robinson Cano opted not to pick the Royals’ DH Billy Butler for his team. For reasons Cano does not necessarily have to fully explain, he instead chose Prince Fielder, Jose Bautista, and Mark Trumbo. Naturally, Royals fans were quite upset with the decision, and they expressed themselves as baseball fans often do. They first took to various social media platforms to spread the word, and they even managed to get the hashtag #boocano trending in Kansas City today. Kudos. Congratulations. Well done. Now go sit in the corner and learn something.
The KC faithful just whiffed on the biggest pitch to come their way in a long time. All they needed was the collective savvy of a good PR staffer, and they could have hit one out of Kauffman all the way to NYC. Heck, it only took 1 move. This was not the equivalent of a 22 step opening gambit in chess against a grandmaster of the game. This was more like a double jump in checkers against your 11 year-old cousin. All the fans, Royals, or someone close to Billy Butler had to do to win the day was send Butler out to hug Cano right as the derby started. Just a show of good faith to indicate that there were no grudges being held and no hurt feelings. Why? Because I don’t think Butler really felt snubbed quite like the fans did.
Classy move. Extremely savvy move. In one fell swoop, KC could have had 3 defining moments at the same time:
- Billy Butler appearing as a classy guy on ESPN
- Robinson Cano playing the part of the heel with millions watching
- Kansas City fans coming off as spectacularly intelligent fans with a collective eye for the spotlight
Best of all, they could have drawn a lot more attention to the fact that many believe Cano had promised a spot to Butler earlier this year. Whether Cano did or did not does not matter now. It could have, though. Had the fans remained absolutely silent during Cano’s at-bats after Butler had gone with the bro-hug, KC could have had its BBQ and eaten it, too. They whiffed. They came up with nothing, and when Cano went zero-for-everything, they went into another level of frenzy.
Too bad. There was a significant amount of charity money at stake. Every HR counted. Had Cano even hit 5 home runs and failed to make it past the first round, that still would have meant more money in the charity piggy bank. Regardless of whether or not the fans were just booing Cano for his decision, they came across to many as jerks. That’s not exactly the end goal of hosting the All-Star Game. It’s a showcase event. The city gets the kind of publicity many mayors would beg to have. Too bad the fans left it to chance that the lasting memory of the 2012 All-Star break could be a bunch of people in Kauffman Stadium booing a guy trying to win some money for charity.
For the record, Billy Butler made little sense as a choice for the AL, despite the fact that he plays in KC. Butler is in his 6th season in the majors, and he has never hit more than 21 home runs in a season. Jose Bautista has 27 HR at the break, Prince Fielder has averaged over 30 per season in his career, and Mark Trumbo has 22 home runs in just 313 plate appearances this season. I honestly don’t condone what Cano may or may not have done, but I don’t understand the response beyond questioning him for his alleged misdeeds.
Fans certainly have the right to boo, but they should at least be aware that their actions reverberate long beyond the point at which the booing stops. People will remember Kansas City as the town that booed one of baseball’s biggest stars who just happened to be sharing the stage with his dad. Maybe he is a jerk for not taking Butler. Maybe he isn’t a jerk. All I know is that I saw a great opportunity for Kansas City fans to swing for the fences, and I was just a bit disappointed that they came up empty.