In the fable, the tortoise catches the hare, providing a lesson about the value of pace and diligence and the dangers of over-exuberance.
In reality, as the voting for next month’s All-Star Game comes to a close, the fans of the Kansas City Royals – the metaphorical hare in online vote – have less than a week left to rewrite the parable.
Two weeks ago, eight Royals stood to start for the American League in the Midsummer Classic on July 14 in Cincinnati. With the latest round of voting released Monday, that number had shrunk to five, with players like Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas seemingly on the outside looking in to make the club.
“It’s not over yet,” manager Ned Yost said. “And the players’ vote just got wrapped this weekend. It’ll be interesting to see what the players’ got. We’ll get a better idea of what the team’s going to be.”
Four Royals — catcher Salvador Perez, shortstop Alcides Escobar and outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon — still hold comfortable leads at their positions. Omar Infante is clinging to a lead of about 230,000 over Houston’s Jose Altuve, a far more deserving choice at second base.
Meanwhile, Hosmer, Moustakas and designated hitter Kendrys Morales have all lost ground. Hosmer trails Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera by 2.4 million votes. Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson has leap-frogged Moustakas and leads by nearly 1.37 million votes. And Nelson Cruz surpassed Morales by almost 205,000 votes.
The trends do not favor Kansas City, even if producing five All-Star starters is far from disappointing. The Royals are bidding to have a player voted into the All-Star Game lineup for the first time since 2000. Wade Davis is also expected to make the team as a reliever.
The balloting will end at 10:59 p.m. Central time July 2. This is the first year All-Star balloting is being conducted entirely online at MLB.com. Up to 35 votes can be cast from one email address, and according to a Major League Baseball official, a person who receives an email reply after casting their first ballot that invites them to continue voting has cast a valid ballot.
The voting of the players may not benefit the Royals. Albert Pujols entered Monday leading the American League with 23 home runs, and looked like a reasonable candidate to make the team as the backup first baseman. Manny Machado is a logical pick for an alternative third baseman.
Yost is unsure if he will carry a third catcher, which would reduce the chances for a player like Hosmer or Moustakas to make the club. As Yost understands it, he is likely only able to pick three players of his own choosing. And even that, he explained, “is a gray area.”
“I may not be able to pick any,” Yost said. “If there’s a team or two that’s not represented, I may have to pick somebody on that team. So they’re not really ‘my picks.’”
Asked if he would go out of his way to try to choose Royals if he could, Yost explained the quandary he was in.
“If I feel they deserve it, yeah,” he said. “If I have a choice, and there’s an opening. I don’t really foresee that being the case.”
Thus, with less a week left in the voting, the fans of the Royals must amass once more to see if they can stir another viral movement to put their players back on top. In the fable, the tortoise wins. In reality, there’s still time for the hare to reclaim the lead.