The fans in Kansas City were not happy with American League team captain Robinson Cano at the Home Run Derby Monday night. Apparently, Cano had promised to include whatever Kansas City Royal made the squad. That Royal turned out to be Billy Butler, who has hit 16 home runs heading into the break. Cano realized this and chose a team of more accomplished power hitters from the AL, leaving Butler off the derby team. The booing and cheering that resulted was loud, consistent, and completely hilarious.
Major League Baseball officials should be ecstatic that fans of one of their least successful teams care that much about the freaking home run derby. This should be a watershed moment for the Royals franchise and baseball in many other cities with struggling teams. If people still care enough to boo Robinson Cano because he snubbed their pity-all star, then maybe there’s hope for the Royals and other teams after all. Isn’t that why they gave the All-Star Game to Kansas City in the first place?
Major League Baseball and Commissioner Bud Selig, naturally, are trying to screw this up.
They’re seeing the booing of Cano only in a negative light and are publicly kicking around an idea of how to fix it: forcing team captains to choose one derby contestant who plays in whatever town the All Star Game is being played.
The 2013 All-Star Game is being played at Citi Field in New York, home of the Mets. Their leading home run hitters at this point in the 2012 season are Lukas Duda, Scott Hairston, and Ike Davis, who have all hit 12 home runs. That’s four fewer than even the snubbed Billy Butler currently has. I’m sure having them in the home run derby would be super awesome for ratings and fan interest.
That MLB and Bud Selig would even mention this is also awful because of the possibility the rule might actually happen, creating yet another reactionary rule from Selig and his office. The All-Star game didn’t always determine which league had home-field advantage in the World Series. That was Selig. This necessity-to-be-determined one-game playoff between wild card teams at the end of the season? That was Selig this past offseason. Expanded All-Star rosters? Selig. Interleague play? Selig. Do not doubt that he will yet again tinker with the format of one of baseball’s most interesting, and yet ultimately pointless, institutions.
And he would do this because of Billy Butler, whose career-high home run total for a season is 21 in 2009. He hit 19 last year and has 16 at the break this year. His Iso Power (IsoP) is a career-high .197 this year, six points above his previous high of .191 in 2009 and 33 points above his career average of .164. Very exciting power hitter that Billy Butler.
The conspiracy-theory reading of this situation says that Selig’s office is most likely just punishing the fans with this ridiculous rule proposal, scaring them into never showing any real emotion (other than “wow!”) at the home run derby again. How dare they boo anyone on either of these two days out of the baseball season even though they are encouraged to do so the entirety of the regular season and playoffs? Nevermind the hypocrisy of encouraging positive partisanship at future home run derbies, which would almost certainly lead to vocal dislike of other participants. Home fans are going to root for their hometown player, are they not?
So it’s really us that’s being spanked by Major League Baseball, who would never even consider getting rid of the designated hitter or creating an actual salary cap to promote real parity in the league (heaven forbid those passionate Kansas City fans have a team that can compete financially). They probably never even intend to discuss this rule for the home run derby ever again. They just wanted it in the news for one cycle so that we’ll all feel bad for actually giving a crap about the home run derby and showing it.