By In Stuff

Busted Royal Flush

One of my favorite things in sports (or least favorite things, depending on your appreciation of irony) is when we freak out about stuff that ends up not happening. I guess you could call it the Y2K Syndrome, when people thought a computer quirk would more or less end the world when we entered the 2000s. The world, you might remember, went on, except for Cleveland Browns fans.

The Great Panic of 2015 has revolved around the Kansas City Royals potentially sweeping the Major League Baseball All-Star Vote and, in the process, making a mockery of a game that more or less nobody cares about. At one point there were eight Kansas City Royals leading their position in voting with Amos Otis, Freddie Patek, George Toma and some leftover George Brett pine tar all waiting in the wings.

People theorized about elaborate Kansas City hacking schemes (like only people in Kansas City could figure out how to hack in) and Tom Pendergast-inspired ballot stuffing and FIFA-like bribes only with barbecue. Sports Illustrated wrote a story instructing people how to stop the Royals invasion before it started. Writer after writer concocted new ways to vote for the All-Star game so that we could prevent the Royals meteor from hitting earth in the future.

And it was fun and all. But if you look at the voting now, you realize something:

There are only going to be four Royals starting in the All-Star Game.

Four is a lot, admittedly. But it happens pretty often. The 2012 Giants had four starters (including pitcher Matt Cain). The 2011 Yankees and 2008 Red Sox had four players elected to be starters (though injuries and such gave them less). The 2005 Red Sox had four starters and so did the 2005 Cardinals. And so on. Four is not a great anomaly. You go back, there are teams with five starters too.

And, honestly, that’s what I think is going to happen with these Royals. Four starters. Royals fans have flexed their muscles, displayed their great enthusiasm for this team, and it’s been fun. But look, the voting closes on July 2, which is still more than a week away.

And here’s where we stand:

First base:
1 Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera, 9.3 million
2. Eric Hosmer, 8.0 million

— Kansas City’s Hosmer built up a nice early lead, but Cabrera (deservedly) will win this one going away. Heck, even Hosmer said Cabrera should start.

Second base:
1. Omar Infante, 6.5 million
2. Houston’s Jose Altuve, 6.1 million

— I’m not entirely sure about this one, but I think in the end justice prevails and Altuve gets the start. Royals fans are voting for Infante as sort of an inside joke and nose thumb at the complaining national media — most of those fans don’t even want Infante starting for Kansas City.

1. Alcides Escobar, 8.7 million
2. Detroit’s Jose Iglesias, 6.1 million

— Here is Royals starter No. 1. Royals fans adore Escobar, probably to the point of overrating him. But that’s OK. Hometown fans are supposed to overrate their favorites. He does offer a little bit with his bat, a lot with the glove, and while Iglesias is having a somewhat better first half, I don’t think it’s a hard argument that over the last few years Escobar is the more accomplished player. Heck Iglesias missed all of last season.

Third base:
1. Mike Moustakas: 9.04 million
2. Toronto’s Josh Donaldson: 9.00 million

— Though Moustakas is technically leading, this is a dead heat and all the momentum is going Donaldson’s way. I suspect he wins the vote, and if so that’s the right call. Donaldson is one of the best players in baseball. Moustakas* though, is having a fantastic season, a career-shifting season, and if he did win out it wouldn’t be a tragedy or a travesty.

*Originally, my spell check changed Moustakas to “Mustaches.” Which is awesome.

1. Anaheim’s Mike Trout, 9.1 million
2. Lorenzo Cain, 9.07 million
3. Alex Gordon, 7.8 million
4. Detroit’s Yoenis Cespedes, 5.9 million

— Here are Royals starters 2 and 3 — Cain and Gordon. Cain has blossomed into one of the most fun and thrilling players in baseball. He’s getting votes all of the country, not just in Kansas City. And Gordon is just about as solid as they come and the solid backbone of the Royals’ improvement the last three years.

1. Salvador Perez, 10.2 million
2. Toronto’s Russell Martin, 4.7 million

— The biggest landslide of them all, Royals’ All-Star No. 4 will be Salvy, the brilliant defensive catcher who hits the occasional home run and never walks and is the fighting spirit of this team.

Designated hitter:
1. Kendrys Morales, 7.6 million
2. Seattle’s Nelson Cruz, 7.3 million

— Too close to call, but in the end I have to believe the votes will come in for Cruz, though he has cooled off offensively lately.

And there you go, four starters, all of them viable candidates, all of them representing the team that, at the moment, has the best record in the American League, none of them embarrassments to the All-Star Game.

So what happens now? The game will come and go, some baseball fans might tune in if they don’t have prior plans, the winning team will absurdly get World Series home field advantage even though the managers will do nothing whatsoever to try and win the game, and we can go on to the next trumped-up controversy that may or may not happen. Yes, John Lennon got it right. We’re all just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round. Or maybe we’re just sitting on cornflakes waiting for the van to come. Either way, instant karma’s going to get us.

44 Responses to Busted Royal Flush

  1. TJMac says:

    Joe, you’re a working class hero, and that’s something to be.

  2. Chris H says:

    Two nits:
    1) If Altuve wins the vote, he’ll deserve it over Infante, but it’s not clear that justice will have prevailed. Not with Jason Kipnis and his .952 OPS in the league.

    2) I can understand that from the average person’s perspective it might seem Y2K was much ado about nothing, but I’ve never really understood the argument that we shouldn’t have spent all that effort to avoid problems since we didn’t have problems in the end. It’s like saying we didn’t need to fix a bridge because after we fixed it, it didn’t collapse.

    But you’re probably right that fretting about too many Royals in the all-star game was premature.


    • The Y2K thing could have been real. I remember setting up a date calc in the 80s …. Using the two digit year…. And asked aloud what’s going to happen when we get to “00”. One guys said, “well, let’s hope we’re not hear then, cause all this crap will have to be rewritten”. I was still there for Y2K. The reason it went well, was that after late recognition, companies realized that if they weren’t ready, that could be the end for them. So they wildly overpaid programmers who knew the dead programming languages and attacked the project with paranoid zeal. Our company literally released no new product updates for three years. The entire IT budget was spent on Y2K…. All because early programmers had to deal with an 80 character record length and couldn’t spare the space to use all four digits of the year.

      • alvin alcibiades says:

        Thank you, bellweather22, for explaining this. I was working myself up to comment and was relieved to find that you had it covered. The generally held belief is that Y2K was an empty threat since nothing bad happened. In truth however, nothing bad happened because we fixed it. I was involved with the effort at Bank of America, and I know we went through every bloody thing, and then tested every bloody thing, and still everybody held their breath as the calendar clicked over.

    • MikeN says:

      Also the people who built the bridge knows they tend to not be built well.

  3. Jack Glasscock's Cup says:

    Kipnis, kipnis, kipnis. The second base answer should always be Kipnis. He’s the best player at the position over the past four years, even with an injury-plagued 2014. Altuve, minus an abnormally high BABIP last year, is an average hitter for his career. Mockery, travesty, sham, in some particular order describes the voting from the perspective of this Forest City fan.

  4. ericanadian says:

    I don’t think it’s just Royals fans pushing up the vote counts for the Royals players. It’s a great story and I’ve fired a few votes their way for exactly that reason.

    @Chris H

    In a lot of cases, even if nothing was done regarding Y2K nothing would’ve blown up. My company upgraded a bunch of systems after being told their old system was not Y2K compliant. We moved over everything, but after Y2K happened, the old system kept working just fine.

    • The funniest Y2K thing I saw was the Y2K countdown clocks. For whatever reason, our company gave them out to a lot of us. The clocks literally counted down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until Y2K. When the clocks hit zero, they put up a bunch of gibberish numbers that kept changing randomly. The joke was, of course, that the Y2K countdown clocks weren’t Y2K compliant.

  5. MikeN says:

    Major League Baseball cancelled millions of votes after the Royals took the lead. Maybe they detected hacking, or maybe these results are like those Rookie of the Year ‘ties’ that David Stern kept having.

  6. Mike, MLB throws out millions of votes every year. Has nothing to do with the Royals. Also, Joe, I was hoping for a Royals sweep. I thought it would be great for baseball. The Kansas City market has been down so long, it’s great to see them getting excited over baseball again. Great city, great market.

  7. Tony says:

    You are correct about nobody watching. The All Star Game and the World Series both have been seriously hurt by inter league play. For a few more dollars for a few years they ruined these games. Heck, they don’t even sell out the Royals – Cardinal series anymore.

  8. Scotty says:

    Biggest takeaway from this piece is that Joe actually has spellchecking software…

  9. Pantrypest says:

    Salvy hits more than an occasional homerun. He’s on place to hit 30, this with Kaufman’s massive dimensions; not like it’s NY with a wimpy 299 to right field.

    • KHAZAD says:

      It’s actually a pace for 25, but who needs math when you can just throw out a number that sounds good to you?

      • Pantrypest says:

        Now that I’ve done the math, it’s 27. Shame on me for mental math and rounding to 30.

        • KHAZAD says:

          It is up to 27 after the home run tonight.

          • Pantrypest says:

            Point still stands: Still more than an “occasional” home run. Not like he’s going to finish the season in single digits.

          • Pantrypest says:

            And after tonight’s game, it’s up to 29.25. OMG! How dare round to 30!?

          • KHAZAD says:

            Changing it day by day doesn’t change what it was when you made your comment. He was at 25 and would have to hit at a 33.5 pace the rest of the year to make 30.

            Sal is being used alot again this year and the odds are he will have another second half fade. (Saying that as a Royals fan) If someone gave me 25.5 as an O/U right now I would bet the under with confidence.

    • bpdelia says:

      It’s no longer 299 to right field and in fact new York no longer has the closest right field foul pole.

  10. BIP says:

    So, before the voting is over, you categorically declare that we’ll only have 4 Royals starters, so it’s no big deal, even though as many as 7 could actually win? That doesn’t make any sense.

  11. MikeN says:

    I’m going to go place another 35 votes for a Royals sweep, including Infante.

  12. Robert says:

    Everybody at my (Toronto) office placed 35 votes for Donaldson one morning, including those who have never seen a baseball game. So, there are 1,330 votes which are totally undeserved and reflect, in my opinion, the utter falseness of the whole process. As a result, I have no respect for the game and ignore it completely. Which is a shame, because a kid growing up I thought it was the pinnacle of the baseball world.

    • It’s really no different than in the 70s when I was a kid and the ushers would purposely give us a ton of ballots, because they knew kids would sit there and punch out the “chads” and dutifully vote for the home players. All the voting today is done online now by people with no lives. Kids don’t even watch baseball anymore.

  13. Auld Tymer says:

    The Great KC Ballot Scandal is great for baseball — without it, no one would be paying any attention at all to all-star voting. All of the Royals in question are good players, at least marginally qualified for the all-star game, so the worst that can happen is that the second- or third-best players at their position will play the first three innings instead of the last three. Ultimately unlikely to have any significant impact on the results of the game.

  14. mrhonorama says:

    The combination of interleague play and the ridiculous rule that every team gets a player, and almost everyone plays, have robbed the All-Star game of its specialness. I was rooting for the Royals to get 7 or 8 players, just because it would emphasize what a waste of time the game has become.

  15. MikeN says:

    Now if the Royals third outfielder could eat out Mike Trout, all would be well.

  16. jalabar says:

    Nice. Wrong, but nice. The Infante thing, if he wins they need to change the way teams are selected, period. Otherwise, they need to change the way the teams are constructed anyway. Allow the players and managers to nominate the All-Star candidates and let the fans vote on them.

    Yes, 4 is too many Royals. If this game were JUST an exhibition, and not for home field in the WS… IF there were players all over the league who have all-star appearances and starts written into their contracts as incentive… if people didn’t use All-Star appearances as ‘A’ qualification for Cooperstown… If all of these things were the caswe, then you could just shrug off this as Joe is doing.

    However, this is not the case. Infante’s election may cost Altuve hundreds of thousands in bonus money. The inclusion of four Royals may cost the AL the home field for the WS (and if so, I hope KC makes it and loses 4-3, with all 4 losses on the road). And some day Iglesias may be on a HoF ballot where people are saying “Yeah, but he only made 3 All-Star games and candidate over here made 4, so we should choose candidate #4, all things being equal.”

    Deserving players should go and start. Not deserving players should not go or start. Period. If we have a system that supports this, then we should keep it. If we have a system that does not, and that allows undeserving to make it, then we should change the system.

    • MikeN says:

      Funny no one says that when it lots of Yankees who make the AllStar team.

      • Except for Jeter usually in those years each of the Yankees selected was at least somewhat deserving. Yankees/Red Sox are often over represented but at least vaguely competent players, not dumpster status.

        I really want Infante to start just for the comedy of it, also Kendrys Morales is almost as terrible so I’m hoping he gets the start as well.

        • I did want to point out that Infante actually was an all star in 2010. He was picked by, I think, Charlie Manuel because he was having a big year as a super sub. In reality his advanced stats were nothing great, but he did have a career year.

      • bpdelia says:

        Yeah but actually in general the anti Yankee vote means that only deserving Yankees make it. Aside from a legacy guy like jeter which Yankees have made it when they shouldn’t? Or red Sox player?

        That happens because until recently both those teams were perennially stocked with superb players.

    • Jason Schock says:

      hmmm…nope, it didn’t; actually those Royals did a great deal to help the AL win, genius

  17. tim says:

    Just like all those all star games sandy alomar jr made playing a handful of games. Fun stuff. I like it. Seeing infante in the game would be strange.

  18. doncoffin64 says:

    All in all, it’s just another brick in the wall…

    (One last rock reference)

  19. MikeN says:

    MLB’s intervention probably had to do more with putting extra scrutiny on ballots for the Royals, while the nonRoyals illegal ballots were not scrutinized as carefully.

  20. MikeN says:

    I thought Ned Yost was a terrible manager, and the Royals success last year was a statistical fluke. Why are they in first place again?

  21. Allen Phillips says:

    come on
    MLB always slants the vote, its always a fix, they admit to throwing out millions of votes, how could it not be a fix
    I voted 175 times myself while watching the games on tv, even used my kindle address, perfectly legal

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