Sam Mellinger

Sam Mellinger: Mike Moustakas is an All-Star. Because Royals fans, that’s why.

Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas laughs at first after reaching on a bloop single in a game against the Minnesota Twins earlier this season at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, MO.
Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas laughs at first after reaching on a bloop single in a game against the Minnesota Twins earlier this season at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, MO.

The election was rigged.

From the very instant Mike Moustakas was put in an internet election for the final spot on the American League All-Star team, he had to know where he’d spend next week.

You knew. I knew. The other four contestants had to know, even though Didi Gregorius spent part of his week paying subway fare for votes.

Guys who play in New York, Dallas, and Boston — the nation’s Nos. 1, 5, and 9 markets — never stood a chance against a man who plays in baseball’s third-smallest market.

Moustakas won the vote, because of course he did, because giving Royals fans the chance to rally around an online vote means Omar Infante nearly made the All-Star team in 2015.

The joke then was that Royals fans didn’t want him playing for their own team, but they’d dang sure do their best to put him on the All-Star team.

Moustakas is a very good ballplayer, a key to the parade two years ago, the guy who dove into the dugout suite that night against the Orioles, and is currently on pace to break Steve Balboni’s (sort of embarrassing, if we’re all honest) club home run record sometime in August.

Moose could’ve been up against oceanfront property, and Kansas City would’ve voted for Moose.

There is a lot to like about Kansas City. The food, the falls, the people, the convenience. Loose Park on a Saturday afternoon, Westport on a summer night, downtown during the Big 12 men’s basketball tournament. We have good schools, two states, (mostly) successful sports teams (at the moment, anyway) and a new brewery every week.

We also know, without a shred of uncertainty, that any human being employed by the Royals and put in an online vote will destroy any other human being employed by any other baseball team.

Whatever it’s worth, I have a pet theory about why this is.

Kansas City has a misplaced inferiority complex that comes out most clearly through sports. People here have a tendency to see slights where none exist and to take actual slights as acts of war.

We’ve all seen that New Yorker cover about how the country looks from 9th Avenue, and a lot of us have come to believe there’s more than a little truth in there. It’s part of why we bang on St. Louis more often than the other way around and part of why we can make fun of ourselves but go nuclear when outsiders do it.

Twenty-nine years without a parade may be the biggest reason so many people showed up along the way to Union Station two autumns ago, but it’s not the only reason.

And it sure isn’t the biggest reason those pictures were sent around the internet after parades in other cities — a sports fan’s ultimate yeah-but-mine’s-bigger move.

Kansas City is easy to overlook, in other words, so people here make sure they’re heard when they can.

Maybe that’s part of why Kansas City screams “CHIEFS” so loud at the end of national anthems at Arrowhead Stadium, or why tailgating goes to such absurd extremes, or why a central argument to building a new airport is the first impression it would make on visitors.

Kansas City will rally around its own, is the point. Kauffman Stadium will shake for big moments, fans will take great pride in breaking a very unofficial noise record at Arrowhead Stadium, and Children’s Mercy Park will be sold out for more than five years running.

Moustakas may very well have won the vote with a sequestered and impartial jury. He is a terrific balance of defense and power, with a name that people outside of Kansas City have heard of.

But once it was put up to an internet vote, with Royals fans given a virtual unlimited supply of votes, well, come on.

Kansas City is as likely to get that ocean as it is to let anyone but Moustakas win that vote.

Sam Mellinger: 816-234-4365, @mellinger

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