I’m not in the mood to discuss losing streaks. Guess I just fell out of habit.
Let’s discuss something that is currently moving the national baseball media: The Royals are storming the All-Star Game virtual ballot box. Storming. The first round of results were released on Tuesday and five Royals (five!) are in pole position to get the start for the American League.
In a post last week, I wrote about how you could easily justify giving the starting nod to Hosmer, Moustakas, Gordon, and Cain. The leaders also include Perez and perhaps in a bit of a surprise, Escobar. Hosmer is trailing Miguel Cabrera at first.
Those numbers above are more than a little staggering. Moustakas leads by almost 400k? Cain leads Mike Trout? The other thing that strikes me as a little strange is that the third place in all of the positions besides outfield has fewer than 400k votes. There is already a strong gap between second and third place, which would appear to mean these contests are basically two-man races. Although you have to take any attempt to parse the ballot with a little skepticism. This is the internet, after all.
Still, how is this for a pretty picture?
While the sanctimony from the national baseball writers (“Harumph! Too many Royals!”) is loud, it feels necessary to point out what we are seeing is a fanbase unleashed from 30 years of Baseball Hell. Mix that suddenly resurgent base with a national profile gained from playing in October, then combine that with one of the best starts in baseball through the first seven weeks, and that’s how we’ve arrived at a loaded Royals All-Star roster. Should the Royals somehow get five starters on the team, they would be the first club since the ’76 Reds to load the roster. Fitting. And hilarious. Maybe we’ve been getting this slogan thing wrong all this time. Forget “Forever Royal.” They’re the Big Blue Machine.
There is the little issue of how the balloting is performed. For the first time since 1970, there are no paper ballots available at the stadiums. All-Star voting is entirely unscientific to start, but it seems to me that removing paper ballots will cause some sort of consequence. Maybe Royals fans have a larger internet presence, or are just more likely to vote the maximum 35 times per email address. Or maybe Royals fans are more likely to have multiple email addresses. Even still, maybe Royals fans are more likely to create multiple email addresses for the specific purpose of voting for the All-Star Game. You guys are monsters.
Really, it’s impossible to take the All-Star Game seriously. The game is a glorified exhibition that carries zero juice. I’ll spare you the “good old days” platitudes because that’s kind of bogus, too. Yet there is something the All-Star Game has lost over time. There isn’t one reason, but interleague, all the games on TV, tie games and the silly “This Time It Counts” campaign are good starting points. I digress. The point is, I just can’t get worked up about a silly exhibition. So if one team is overrepresented, so be it.
Yet since I am a Royals fan, I have a definite sense of pride about the whole thing. It’s not exactly a storming of the Bastille, but it’s a nice way to shake our collective fist at the baseball establishment. You’ve force-fed us Yankee and Red Sox laden All-Star teams for years. Now it’s our turn. I’m not going to lie: It’s pretty damn cool.
To my mind, this whole process started back in 2012. Not only did the entire city represent at the All-Star Game, we made headlines for our support of the entire event. We also made headlines for our lack of support of a certain Robinson Cano. And the cheers for Billy Butler were enormous and amazing. It was a helluva party. The buzz carried over through The Trade and of course it reached a crescendo last September and October. The Royals and their fans have made their presence felt nationally.
This is just the culmination of the last three years. Or is it the continuation? The Royals are drawing an average of 31,815 fans per game. That number is astonishing. Can I interest you in another attendance fact that could blow your mind? The Royals are playing to an average of 83.9 percent capacity at The K. Only the Giants, Red Sox and Cardinals play to fuller stadiums on average. The Royals are ahead of teams from Los Angeles and New York for crying out loud.
Kansas City is a baseball town. It manifests itself in the support of the city at the turnstiles. And it manifests itself at the virtual All Star ballot box. I’m thrilled. It’s been a long winter. Thirty years. And I don’t give a damn about what anyone from anywhere else in the country thinks about the Royals. I hope we can get Hosmer ahead of Cabrera and I would laugh myself sick if we could bump Omar Infante to the top of the second base pool.
Time to wrap this up. I have another email address to create and 35 more votes to stuff in the virtual ballot box.