The game in many ways stands as a reflection of what has been a lost season to date for the Kansas City Royals. The home team was out of the game before fans had a chance to settle into their seats. A former Royals' player, Melky Cabrera, took home the MVP just nine months after being traded for a pitcher who was watching from the stands (where many fans likely hope he remains). Yet the crowd refused to leave. It refused to stop cheering for one of its own. And even announcer Joe Buck found himself attempting to rewrite the narrative about just how close the Royals franchise is to turning it all around.
"These fans are dying for winning baseball in Kansas City. And it seems like they're getting there," Buck said.
-Despite going hitless in two at-bats, Billy Butler was grinning the entire evening. The roaring approval of 40,000 fans will do that for a guy. His demeanor this week and his class in handling the kerfuffle over the Home Run Derby made him the right representative for the city and not just the team.
-It was satisfying to see Verlander get knocked around at Kauffman Stadium where he has a career 1.83 ERA in 13 starts. He claimed that he was lighting up the radar gun to thrill fans. Hopefully, he'll decide to thrill everyone at the K during the regular season.
-Fox nailed an opening tribute to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Terrence Howard narrated the piece that ended with words which should resonate in Kansas City. "Let us never forget what happened on the corner of 18th & Paseo."
-Let me just say there may be no broadcasting duo in the entire game right now more capable of assigning different superlatives for hitting and pitching than Buck and Tim McCarver.
-It was the ghost of Royals past as Cabrera took home the MVP after yanking a two-run homer into the left-field stands (and general manager Dayton Moore threw up in his mouth), Jose Bautista robbed Ryan Braun with a diving scoop catch, and Carlos Beltran drew a walk and scored a run.
-Barbecue didn't come up until the third inning. It was nice to see a national broadcast focus on baseball for a change, even if the game was a dud.
-Was anybody else wondering if Ron Washington might pinch run Billy Butler for David Ortiz after Ortiz singled in the fifth? It would have been a nice way to get him in the game and one of the rare times that Butler would have given his team more speed on the base paths.
-If the national media had any question about the character of Royals' fans, it was answered in the sixth inning when Chipper Jones received a standing ovation in his final All-Star Game appearance.
-There was a woman apparently dressed like Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch in the seats behind home plate. She was out of her seat as often as a toddler looking for the cotton candy vendor.
-The game was also a microcosm for Tony La Russa's mercurial managing style. He went with his head over his heart and started Matt Cain, who pitched two scoreless innings, and then shuttled in players in the eighth and ninth innings in an attempt to get everyone in the game. It felt right to have La Russa come out to the mound with two outs in the eighth inning and nobody on with his team up by eight runs and have him signal to the bullpen.
-Fox's decision to have ads pop up over the game play is one that I hope is limited to exhibitions. My screen and attention span aren't large enough to follow what is happening behind an advertisement.
-The game itself didn't live up to expectations, but baseball in Kansas City was relevant to the rest of the country for a night, and that was something to be celebrated.
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