Why Does MLB Put Players In This Position?

As Kansas City fans boo Robinson Cano during his live interview, sitting next to Derek Jeter, on MLB Network, this question:

Why does MLB put the onus of who doesn’t participate in the All-Star Game Home Run Derby on one of its players each year? Then-NL Captain Prince Fielder got booed in Phoenix last year for leaving Justin Upton off his four-man team, and now Cano has earned the eternal enmity of Kansas City for not picking Billy Butler.

I’m not talking about the merits of the Butler decision here.

I’m talking about the merits of the Captaincy decision.

One player does not select the All-Stars, and one player does not hand out the awards, and one player does not vote in the Hall of Famers. Why does one player pick the Derby participants? Or, if the novelty and even nostalgia are worth it (remember, in the 19th Century the team captain picked the line-ups and often made the trades), why not make this really easy on him?

The Home Run Derby is necessarily a hometown event. It makes perfect sense to have a home team player in it. I mean David Ortiz just said he hoped to take just one at bat tonight and then let Butler take over as DH. Further, in these days of universal slugging it’s not like you could name a team whose candidate for the role would be an embarrassment in the contest. Why not simply say that each year, the captain of the home league team has to select a player from the host club?

Not difficult, not unfair, and not a player’s fault. I know Robinson Cano is a grown-up and can take the booing. But why in a day when fan sportsmanship is draining away, is the game encouraging people to act with frenzy towards a visiting star?


  1. Sam

    Good point Keith. But I never had heard of a Home Run Derby Captain until this year. And suppose Wright signs a new contract with the Mets– will the captain force him to hit in the Derby next year even though it might mess up that swing, where he’s going the other way hitting singles and doubles and putting up MVP numbers without a lot of home runs? Otherwise, some all around good guy on another team will be booed at Citi. Besides, Billy Butler is a doubles hitter.

  2. Alec

    While I understand your point, I don’t think a hometown player should always be selected for the Home Run Derby. First off, not every team has a position player in the game and the same could possibly be said for the host team any given year. Second, if the host team does have a position player in the game they might not necessarily be a home run hitter. The Derby is about putting on a show for the fans and raising money for charity. Letting players participate just because they are from the host team should not occur, it should be based on talent. The Derby should feature the best of the best and the up and coming talent. I agree that the choice shouldn’t be made by the player deemed ‘captain,’ but regardless of what you think Billy Butler shouldn’t have been in the Derby, he is not a star talent and he is not an up and comer. Cano made the right decision and, I might add, he put a pretty good team together.

  3. patriciaellynpowell

    Robinson Cano is my favorite Yankee! I cried when I saw his reception…and they treated him like that in front of his wonderful dad even! Yes, he’s a grown man, but this still hurts. Rejection always hurts. Even if six digits of people are FOR you, when one is AGAINST, you tend to focus on that one. I wanted to cancel my insurance that I have had with State Farm for about 25 or 30 years, but I didn’t. That would make me a member of the Hater’s Club. Sports is a reflection of society. Look at politics, too. Common courtesy and decency are just not in vogue anymore! And we should treat one another as though we are all visiting stars! Your idea is a good one! Nobody wants to be the odd man out. I cannot imagine what tens of thousands of people booing would feel like. But I do know how being blocked by one stings like hell. 😦

  4. Bob Stewart

    I hope Kansas City fans [not sure how many there will be in the stadium tonight, considering the big $$$ of ticket prices] will cheer Cano tonight, to show that last night’s rancor was NOT personal against him, but in support of the Royals’ sole All-Star selection – and in reaction to Cano’s previous statement that a KC player should be selected to the HR Derby.

    • Kiko Jones

      Not only did they keep it up, certain crowd member harassed his family. And yes, he said a KC player SHOULD be selected. That is not a promise, tho, as many have made it out to be.

  5. mary caruso

    Are you really expecting the fans to show some courtesy and respect even for a visiting player? It’s not like that anymore. Used to be in the days gone by but people have now been more aggressive than ever. Baseball is a reflection of the atmosphere and attitudes of the day. There is too much anger and frustration. This does not bode well.
    Having the decision made by a captain might alleviate some of the rancor but that would be going against a tradition set up some time ago. People can not seem to go with the flow or accept change that radically so I guess we’re stuck with this for the time being. It is a good idea and I hope those who make the decisions get to read your blog. It may change some minds.

    • Kiko Jones

      True. But lest we forget, Yankee fans cheered the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton as if he were Derek Jeter, during the ’08 HR Derby in the Bronx. That should be a lesson.

  6. Scott

    Let the players vote on the participants. And for the AS Game, either take the vote away from the fans except for the final spot or let it go back to what it once was – just an exhibition game with nothing on the line except for bragging rights.

    Home field advantage for the WS should just alternate or be determined by inter-league records. I don’t see how interest in the AS Game rises because of the home field advantage addition.

  7. Sam

    I totally agree with Keith that the decision shouldn’t be left to an individual player. It’s an unfair position to put Cano or anyone else in. I totally disagree that a hometown player should be included by default. ”15″ other players in the AL have more home runs than Butler up to this point in the season, but Keith would rather appease the 40,000 people at Kauffman Stadium (not all of which are Royals’ fans- people “do” travel from out of town for this game) than the 6-8 million television viewers. Why is picking participants for the Home Run Derby being treated like a physics problem??? Simply choose the players from each league that have the most home runs up to the All-Star break. Let the statistics be the deciding factor. Problem solved. Viewers want to see the hot bats at the plate, so put them up there. This is one of the more ridiculous baseball debates in recent memory.

  8. Eric

    What you fools don’t seem to realize is that the reception Cano got here in KC wasn’t because Cano didn’t pick Butler for the Derby. It was because he went on national TV and said he would pick a Royal for the Derby then didn’t when it came time for him to follow through.

    • Kiko Jones

      Let’s get the facts straight: Cano NEVER promised Butler a spot. He said having a KC player would be the right thing. And booing the guy is fine, whatever. But harassing family members is crossing an ugly line.

  9. EarlNash (@EarlNash)

    Yes, the Captain thing is wrong and just one of the many things about the Midsummer Night’s Dream Game that need to be changed. Tone deaf Bud needs to read this post:

    “It’s long past time to revise the voting for the All-Star game by taking the Commissioner and the managers out of it, limiting the role of the fans, and allowing the active MLB players to decide which of their peers gets the honor of playing…”

      • marinersfan

        MLB.com used to monitor Baseball Nerd for garbage like “shthar” wrote. They also would respond to people’s complaints about this type of crap being written. Also, the posts had to be about baseball. They couldn’t be about how a person hates Keith, how awful K. is, his political views, his program ” Countdown “, etc. These people now have Twitter as a place to attack him.
        Keith said that he wouldn’t be reading the comments on Baseball Nerd. I wonder if that is still true. But my big question is: why is MLB.com not responding to complaints and monitoring as before. I’ve learned a lot about baseball reading this blog. Used to be a great blog until the “haters” decided to invade.

  10. Kiko Jones

    “I picked the right team. We won. The American League ended up with the trophy.”
    – Robinson Cano

    “They don’t boo nobodies.”
    – Reggie Jackson

  11. Darren Beem

    The KC Fans should boo their ownership for fielding a terrible team for the past twenty years. It’s not Robinson Cano’s fault that the Royals stink

Leave a Reply to EarlNash (@EarlNash) Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s