July 9, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; American League infielder Robinson Cano (24) of the New York Yankees at bat during the first round of the 2012 Home Run Derby at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports via US PRESSWIRE

A Quick Kansas City Perspective on Booing Robinson Cano

So you’re watching the Home Run Derby on ESPN and Robinson Cano got booed mercilessly when he was introduced to the Kansas City crowd.

There are a number of factors in play here:

1) Billy Butler is having a career year while leading the team with 16 homers. He’s displaying the power that fans have expected to see from him for years now (even if they sometimes confuse homers as the only means of having power from time to time).

2) Kansas City fans have taken to Billy Butler. His unofficial nickname (recognized by ESPN, Baseball-Reference and even video games) is “Country Breakfast” and originated on Twitter on a fateful July night last year.

3) Robinson Cano said on two occasions that he’d take a player from Kansas City, the host. Twice. Then he didn’t.

4) Royals fans have always been less than accommodating to Yankees and their fans. Not in an antagonizing way, so much, but in the kind of way that has roots in the rivalry from the late-70s and has also been influenced by the widening gap in payrolls in baseball. New York is the biggest market of big markets. Kansas City is the complete opposite.

Had Cano said nothing about taking a Royal, there wouldn’t be nearly as much vitriol in his direction. Some may have been upset, some may have booed anyway. But there wouldn’t be nearly as many without Cano’s earlier declarations.

In the end, it’s not a very big deal. It’s an exhibition spun off of another exhibition. Nobody has incentives in their contract for the Home Run Derby. It’s fun to watch and impressive to see the massive shots and it would have been nice to see Billy Butler taking some hacks, but ultimately, it’s not the end of the world.

It still stings though. The Royals had multiple players who could have been All-Stars – maybe they weren’t all slam dunk options, but they had the chance. Instead, Butler was the lone representative and worthy of being in the Derby as well.

It’s not even about Mark Trumbo or Prince Fielder or Jose Bautista being selected over Butler. ESPN tried to make that the narrative, but nobody’s saying that that trio shouldn’t be involved. KC fans weren’t upset that any of that group was selected, just that they were selected after Cano said he was going to choose a Royal.

We’re a passionate bunch in Kansas City and in those small moments when we have some kind of spotlight on us (the 2003 mirage, Zack Greinke‘s Cy Young season in 2009, All-Star Weekend), we put all of our chips in the middle of the table. We’re all in. There aren’t as many of us as the mid-80s, but the folks who are still around care. And when we’re spurned, we’re not going to be thrilled about it. I told Ricky Keeler of FanSided’s Yankees site Yanks Go Yard that it’s like “being everyone’s doormat for two decades, then getting snubbed in [our] house.”

Does it really matter? Is Cano going to lose sleep over being booed? Is Butler going to be scarred for being looked over? Doubtful in all cases, but the level of confusion about why fans were booing shouldn’t be confusing at all.


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Tags: 2012 MLB All-Star Game AL Central Baseball Billy Butler Home Run Derby Kansas City Kansas City Royals KC KC Royals MLB Robinson Cano Robinson Cano Booed Royals

  • The tella.

    Id be embarrassed to be a royals fan. No class, at all. One of the rudest things ive seen in sports. The fans just represented their franchise on national television horribly. Trumbo deserved to be there, he has a handful more home runs than butler, and if you think fielder and Bautista are missing the event then y’all are trippin. The royals should be grateful they get to host the all star game the way they’ve played through out my lifetime. Beautiful stadium that i wouldnt want to visit. This article was written well and provided the facts, but the argument comes off completely childish and immature. KC must not have a lot going for them if their going to boo a father and son because their guy didn’t get picked. Hope the all star game is better and that the royals fan base can grow up over night, chia pet fast. Thanks for melky by the way, great trade royals ;)

    • Michael Engel

      1) They weren’t booing Cano’s father. It was entirely on Cano. It wasn’t really malicious, but more of an expression of being wronged.

      2) ESPN and others are entirely misrepresenting it. There’s no argument that Trumbo, Bautista or Fielder weren’t deserving, but Butler has more homers at the break than Fielder, Cano said he would choose a Royal, and Butler was named an All-Star before the HR Derby contestants were named. There’s only one way to go as a captain for an exhibition. Go with a deserving hometown hitter.

      3) No, KC doesn’t have a lot going for them. They’re a young team trying to learn at the big league level. As fans, we have to take what we can get and there were many who felt this was Butler’s promised spot once Cano started to talk about it. Again, had he said nothing at all, the reaction wouldn’t be as big. Had he hit some homers, it wouldn’t have been so big either, as the crowd kept going with every out he made.

      These are the things going through the KC fanbase. That’s how it is. The tide has already turned as the majority have gotten it out of their system and tomorrow, you’re very likely to see a whole different reaction. The derby is over and that’s all this was about. There will be some lingering boos but Cano’s going to get cheered, you watch.

      • arth65456

        Then I hope next year we eliminate the captains and make it mandatory that one player from a hometown team participates because the teams don’t get trophy anyway, it comes down to the individual

        • Michael Engel

          Yeah, it’s probably headed the direction.

    • masher

      Cano would not have been treated that way, had he not promised to take a Royal twice, then not follow up on his own promise. It would have been a non-issue. Butler has 16 hrs, 52 rbis, and plays regularly in that stadium, so he really would not have been an embarrassment to pick. It is a beautiful stadium, and if you don’t visit it is your loss, and for just as childish a reason as you claim Royals fans have. What people like you call childish and immature, others call passionate. I hate the Yankees. I lived through the Royals battles with them during the 70′s and 80′s, Pine Tar and all, and I could care less when a Yankee gets booed in KC.

    • ArrowFan

      This is the show me state not the tell me state. Cano went back on his word twice, why lie in the first place. I guess it is just to old fashion for use mid west types to hold someone accountable for the their words.

  • arth65456

    First off, Mike, I want to thank you for providing us with those links so that we can know the background as to why the booing took place and for including me in the article as well. Butler would have been a nice story to have in it. The one thing I will say when you listen to that ESPN piece with Kruk, is he going to say no I won’t take a Royal then he probably still gets booed. I mean he didn’t do what Fielder did and took a less deserving player in Rickie Weeks over a guy like Justin Upton. All in all, everyone got a show. Butler seemed to have fun with the attention anyway. Why boo the kid though who is representing the charity, but I loved hearing this from an actual Royals person to get the full scoop! Well respected Mike as always!

  • Masher

    A couple of things: #1-I hate automatice picks based on team representation in All-Star games. If you truly deserve to go then fine. But in KC we are excited to send a guy that is actually hitting below his own career batting average, and under .300. This is the type of player we now get excited about. You are kidding yourself if you think Butler is a top 3 1st baseman, or top 3 DH. KC has the longest active drought for a starter in the All-Star Game. #2-George Brett admitted during Beltran’s turn that we are nothing more than a farm club. We can’t keep good players more than 5 years based on the direction of current ownership. Cabrera is just another example of that. So as long as that is the type of product that Glass and Co. think we deserve, then I will not support them. Loyalty is a two-way street. Kauffman was loyal to the fans and proved it in his ownership. The Royals are nothing but the best minor league team in baseball.

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