For Pete's Sake

NPR’s Frank Deford says KC fans will make All-Star Game a ‘royal pain’

Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez.
Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez. JSLEEZER@KCSTAR.COM

Add Sports Illustrated’s Frank Deford to the list of people who have had it with Royals fans.

Speaking on NPR’s “Morning Edition” on Wednesday, Deford lamented that the All-Star Game starters are being picked by fans.

Deford said: “Having fans vote is the way leagues like to run All-Star balloting nowadays, instead of being old-fashioned and letting the choices be made by people who actually know something, people we dare call experts.”

Old-fashioned?

You’d like to believe that Deford, who is one of the most famous sports writers today, knows that fans have been voting for the All-Star Game starters since 1970 (and 1947-57).

But he doesn’t seem to like that fans “can get a ballot off the Internet.”

In fact, Deford laments that fan voting is “interactive.”

“The irony is that if you want to get fans just plain actively engaged, the fewer decision-makers the better,” Deford said. “Half the fun in the selection of All-Stars — or any award winners — is being able to castigate the people who made the choices you disagree with as dimwitted dummies.”

Of course, if Deford had bothered to check into it, he’d have noticed that Royals fans in Kansas City and around the country are energized, excited and engaged by the All-Star Game voting.

Instead, Deford took a shot at Kansas City.

“It’s even worse this year because the good people of Kansas City have stuffed the ballot box with Royals, so instead of an All-Star Game, it’s going to be more of a royal pain,” he said. “That’s the problem when anybody just fills out an Internet ballot, times 35: fans don’t make serious judgments. They just vote for all-ordinary players on their favorite team.”

I might have missed this, but why didn’t Deford go on this rant last year when Derek Jeter was voted as a starter? Or maybe Cal Ripken Jr. in 2001?

Currently five Royals: second baseman Omar Infante, shortstop Alcides Escobar, Gold Glove winner Salvador Perez, ALCS MVP Lorenzo Cain and Gold Glove winner Alex Gordon. Pretty ordinary, huh?

Of course, you have to keep in mind that Deford has made dubious comments in the past.

About statistics he said: “Unfortunately, we’ve gotten swamped by the numbers. People have gotten buried under the numbers. Statistics. That has become everything. Pitch count is more interesting than what the guy is made of. I think that’s a shame because so much of sports is drama.”

Just before MLS started, Deford ripped soccer. He once said soccer had “zero chance” to make it as a spectator sport in the United States. “Every chance it had, it failed. I can’t conceive of any set of circumstances that would make Americans want to take an interest.”

If you think I’m dredging up an old quote, Deford also said Americans are uninterested in MLS this past April.

Maybe Deford, who won journalist awards from both the University of Missouri and the University of Kansas, should visit Sporting Park sometime.

You can listen to the NPR rant on the All-Star Game here:

To reach Pete Grathoff, call 816-234-4330 or send email to pgrathoff@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @pgrathoff.

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