It’s going to take a lot more than a dismal start to ruin Kansas City’s excitement over hosting its first All-Star Game in 39 years.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
The Royals unveiled this year’s All-Star ballot in an on-field ceremony Thursday morning at Kauffman Stadium, and as notable speaker after notable speaker, including Royals owner David Glass, Royals legend George Brett and KC major Sly James, said a few words, there was an undeniable sense of hope in the air, despite the Royals’ 3-9 record.
They mainly spoke about the significance of the upcoming event, which will take place July 10 and was last held in KC in 1973. They spoke about how much fun it will be, how much it will mean to the city…and if you’re any kind of baseball fan, that’s all kind of hard to deny, right?
“It generates an economic benefit of upwards of $60 million,” Glass said. “We’ve always believed Kansas City is the premier city of the Midwest. This is our chance to show not only the rest of the country, but the world, what we have here.”
But for all the glowing talk about how neat the event will be — and there was plenty of it — some, like the mayor, also dared to throw some positive vibes at the slumping baseball team, which has a seven-game losing streak and is in drastic need of a karmic shift.
“We’re gonna have a least one Kansas City Royal on that All-Star team,” James said. “And it might very well be that guy right over there.”
James was pointing to left fielder Alex Gordon, who grinned. Gordon came close to being an all-star during a breakthrough 2011 campaign and obviously would like to make it happen this season.
“I came close last year, and I think the goal for our team is to get more than one guy on the all-star team,” Gordon said. “That means we’re playing well. Hopefully this year, we can do that. And hopefully the next couple of years we can do that.”
Like most of his teammates, Gordon is off to a slow start — he’s batting .149 — but he’s had a few All-Star worthy moments already, like a diving catch he made Monday against Detroit.
“After leaving some of the skin on his face on that field the other night,” James said, “I think he deserves it.”
Now it’s up to the fans to decide. Gordon was one of nine Royals placed on this year’s ballot, and voting begins today. Fans can vote online or at the ballpark in a balloting program that MLB executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan said is the single-largest election in the United States.
“There will be more ballots cast for these players than there will be in the presidential election,” Brosnan said Thursday. “We think that makes this ultra special, and makes the selection of these guys that much more important.”
Of course, he didn’t have to tell that to the dignitaries in attendance Thursday, who are confident their excitement about the game will be matched by the people of Kansas City.
“I’m looking forward to helping show off our town to the world,” said Brett, who has been named KC’s All-Star Ambassador and will be featured in several events leading up to the game. “The people in Kansas City are really going to come out and support this thing.”