The American Royals

If you don’t know what the fuss is all about, this year’s All Star game in Cincinnati might have the National League versus the Kansas City Royals.  Not only are eight position players from the Kansas City team, including second baseman Omar Infante and his .210 batting average, currently leading fan vote totals, but Royals Manager Ned Yost will have the opportunity to add even more players to the American League roster after the player vote is included.  And it’s frickin’ hilarious.

The whole Royals nation and its fans have exposed the flaws of the fan voting system, especially after its complete shift this season to a paperless format.  Using Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, among other things, the word has gotten out in Kansas City that folks can vote up to 35 times per email address.  They’re doing just that and more power to them.  Who knew that the social media capital of the country would not be in New York or California, but instead Missouri?

And as it’s gotten this far, what’s the big hubbub?  No, I don’t think every Royals player is worthy.  And no, I don’t think it’s necessarily fair.  But if you were truly outraged, you wouldn’t be reading this, or watching the season finale of Game of Thrones, or replaying GIFs of Lebron James adjusting his shorts before Game 4 of the NBA Finals.  Instead, you would be voting for your favorite players that are not Royals, at least 35 times.

Admittedly, the system is flawed, especially now that the vote is all online.  Yet I doubt that folks traveling New York City’s subway system never have WiFi access or those Angelinos in Los Angeles really follow the rules and don’t use their phones as they drive.  Let’s face it, the All Star voting shows that everyone outside of Kansas City really doesn’t care.

In the end, many more deserving players will be picked by the player vote and Yost to make the team.  And after all the player injuries before the break and all the selected players who decide to sit out the contest, others will be added to the roster.  Whether the players start or not, they show up on Baseball Reference simply as making the team.

Yet why all of a sudden are people questioning the fan choice this season?  Let’s face it, have fans ever really gotten it right?  Every year, there is always an All Star snub that in retrospect looks like blatant negligence: Albert Belle in 1998, who finished with 200 hits, including 49 home runs, and 152 RBI; Alex Rodriguez in 1999, who finished with 42 home runs and 111 RBI; Paul Konerko in 2004, who finished with 41 home runs and 117 RBI; Ian Kinsler in 2009, who finished with 31 home runs, 32 doubles and 31 stolen bases; Josh Donaldson in 2013, who entered the All Star Break hitting .319, with 15 home runs and 58 RBI.  And then, of course, there are some players that were never selected by the fans, most notably Kirk Gibson and Tim Salmon.

As the system is, the fans get what they deserve.  Yes, it may be a tad unfortunate that we get the Royals starting lineup less one, but this is America and every one of your votes, all 35 of them, should count.

On Tuesday, Commissioner Rob Manfred reaffirmed his faith in the fans by stating that over time they “do a pretty good job” in their selections.  Although he seemed unconcerned, he did admit that he is “responsive and open to change” of the system if it appears that the results are determined to be inconsistent with the “goals of the system that is currently in place.”

And what is the goal of the system?  To honor players?  Or increase ratings?

Major League Baseball loves its players, but money talks.  And an American League starting lineup of Royals, I only presume, could have a lot of people tuning in for the curiosity.  Remember, the All Star Game is not a holy thing, but a revenue driver.  Kinda like the horror movies Universal Studios made when they teamed up Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman.  Why settle for one monster when you can have a whole bunch in one film?

I hope that Alex Rios, the lone starting position player from the Royals not on the current starting All Star roster, ends up getting a last minute surge to replace MVP Mike Trout in the outfield.  Why not?  Since an All Star starting lineup consisting of one team never happened before, it might be fun to see.

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