The Home Run Derby snubbing of Billy Butler by Robinson Cano of the Yankees has Royals fans miffed
By JEFFREY FLANAGANFS Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, MO - Look, in the big scheme of things, it's not all that important who gets picked and who doesn't to the Home Run Derby.
It is an event staged for fun, there is no home-field advantage on the line for either league, and the proceeds go to charity.
The snubbing of
Royals designated hitter Billy Butler by team captain Robinson Cano of the Yankees still doesn't sit well in these parts. And it shouldn't.
Royals fans are deservedly miffed that Butler will not be part of Monday's event at Kauffman Stadium, which, of course, is Butler's home turf.
With 16 homers already this season, Butler was deserving, but that's not even the point. He is a member of the host city's team, and that alone should have earned him a spot.
Remember, this event is for fun and for the fans, the majority of which will be from (duh)
Cano and Major League Baseball whiffed on a great chance to create added excitement and conversation leading up to the event.
And can you imagine how loud Kauffman Stadium would have become Monday night each time Butler came up to bat? Or hit a home run?
Would that not have made great television for ESPN? Would that not have created memories to boost excitement for future Home Run Derby events?
Sure seems like a no-brainer.
I don't really blame Cano for the slight. He is not responsible for seeing the big picture. That's Bud Selig's job, and Major League Baseball's in general.
Cano likely is your typical high-priced baseball star from New York who has little affection or empathy for the small markets. He makes his millions in the biggest market in the land: Why should he care if places like Kansas City or Milwaukee or San Diego dry up and blow away?
But Selig does know better, having owned a small-market team himself in Milwaukee, and he should have intervened when he found out that Cano was going to ignore the host city.
Selig should have known that adding someone like Butler to the event would have created a demand for tickets almost equal to the All-Star Game itself.
It also would have sent the right message from baseball to Kansas City: Hey, we get it, you're the host city, you've all worked hard to make this All-Star week happen, so here's a little gift you deserve. Enjoy.
Instead, once again, Kansas City is treated like an afterthought, at its own party, sort of the way Royals fans feel all the time in baseball's lopsided payroll system that permits the Yankees and other big-market teams to simply write checks in order to purchase World Series titles.
Royals fans are accustomed to being overlooked, and being kind Midwesterners, they won't complain much. They'll even trot out to Monday's event and cheer the American League on, though you're likely to hear some boos for Cano.
Those boos, however, should be directed more toward the real decision-makers, such as Selig, who may be forgetting just how valuable small markets are to the baseball industry.
It's not like small markets such as Kansas City are constantly whining. We have, over the years since the post-1994 strike forever changed the economic landscape, come to accept our fate of being a farm team for the big markets.
But to keep us interested, it wouldn't hurt to throw a bone our way once in a while. And I'm not talking about getting the All-Star Game itself, a promise that took Selig six years to keep after we ponied up hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars so the Yankees and Red Sox have a better place to stay as they come through town.
Having Butler assigned to the Home Run Derby seemingly was a small favor to ask.