By now you likely have heard about or witnessed what transpired on Monday evening at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. The annual Home Run Derby during the All-Star game took place, but the more local (and even national to an extent) story was the chorus of boos that greeted New York Yankees slugger Robinson Cano.
To understand the backstory, Cano was the captain of the American League squad during the Home Run Derby, thus selecting the participants. Cano initially said if a Royals hitter were to be selected, he'd include them in the derby. Well hometown player Billy Butler made the squad, but was left off the list of home run derby participants.
In recent days the local media took exception to this and decided to advise the fans to give Cano a warm welcome to Kansas City. For the most part, it wasn't done as a personal jab at Cano. It was more of a reflection of Kansas City feeling slighted, yet again.
27 years of heart ache and being simply an afterthought, this was Kansas City's chance to take center stage on the baseball map. Sure the American League is full of power hitters. Was Butler deserving of a nod? That's debatable, but his numbers thus far certainly show he belonged in the discussion. The easy thing for Cano would have been to throw Kansas City a bone and take Butler.
What this proved is that despite the decades of losing, Kansas City still is a passionate baseball town and was going to welcome this weekend with open arms. Over 40,000 people showed up to the Futures Game, the best attendance the game has ever had. The fans showed up on Monday night, and will do so again on Tuesday for the All-Star Game.
Though the product on the field has waned over the years at the K, the core of the fanbase has been and will always be there to support the Royals. It's just too bad it struck a chord in the light of the national media, because they simply often overlook Kansas City. Cano made the fans feel slighted, and these three days are the one chance the city has to push back and show the baseball world that the passion here is right up there with some of the best in the majors.
Kansas City isn't generally a negative town, heck most in the baseball circles have been saying nothing but great things about the role the city has taken in hosting this event. The boos heard on Monday evening weren't solely directed at Cano, the boos were 27 years of frustration being let out when the city finally had a chance to be in the limelight. Cano put a damper on the Royals parade, but Tuesday is a new day and the Royals fans will once again be cheering for the best in baseball.
To New York, Robinson Cano is just one of many All-Stars who make the squad each year. Meanwhile in Kansas City, Billy Butler represents a whole community, and fan base, that was looking to show the rest of the country that baseball still matters to the city.