KANSAS CITY -- Tuesday's All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium was the seventh I've attended in person (1975, 1983, 1984, 1990, 1991 and 2003 the others), and this was by far the dullest. Even the one-sided 1983 game had more interesting things going on; it had (and still has, 29 years later) the only All-Star grand slam, hit by the Angels' Fred Lynn. Even the low-scoring 1990 game was more compelling; it was scoreless until the seventh inning, during which there was a colossal thunderstorm that delayed the game for over an hour.
This one? Not so much. It was pretty much over after the first inning; the National League's five-run outburst silenced the partisan crowd, naturally overwhelmingly fans of the host Royals. That meant the Kansas City partisans were reduced to waiting for local favorite Billy Butler to appear in the game, which wouldn't happen until the seventh inning.
That reduced this one to people-watching. I happened to be seated near some members of Butler's family, who were pretty tense about the whole thing until a Royals team employee stopped by to let them know that Butler would soon be in the game. He'd have batted in the sixth inning if Miguel Cabrera hadn't hit into a double play, and Butler actually had at least one of his at-bats courtesy of the White Sox' Adam Dunn:
Dunn never appeared, instead giving his at-bats to the Royals’ Billy Butler, who was playing in front of his hometown fans.
"My whole thing was to rest for the second half," Dunn said. "I wanted to make sure Billy got his at-bats for the crowd. So we talked about it. I did what I wanted to do pretty much. ... It worked out perfect."
Nice gesture on Dunn's part. Good on you.
I saw fans wearing gear from every major-league team Tuesday night; though the majority were Royals fans, the red of the Cardinals was strongly in evidence, St. Louis being just a three-hour drive away. Cubs and Twins fans, also from cities in easy driving distance, also made a good showing, but I also saw Padres and Astros and Marlins jerseys among the sellout crowd.
Some of those people went away disappointed; no Padres player nor Marlins star appeared in the game (Giancarlo Stanton, the only Marlin chosen, couldn't play due to injury). The Seattle Mariners also didn't get their only rep, Felix Hernandez, into the game. If you're going to have a one-player-for-each-team rule, you probably have to get every team represented in the game, too, especially in a blowout where you don't have to save players for extra innings. While I'm at it:
Those are the other healthy players (save Sabathia, who's on the DL) chosen who didn't get into the game. Figured I'd mention them here, because they won't get much mention anywhere else.
It got so dull for the fans in the stands that beach balls started bouncing around.
Seriously. Who leaves their house for a baseball game and thinks, "I'm going to take this blowup ball that belongs at the beach!"? Fortunately, an attempt at starting the wave in the left-field upper deck failed. Seriously, again. The wave jumped the shark 20 years ago. Just stop it. At least there were some people still into the game after the blowout, like the college-age young woman sitting in my row, wearing a San Francisco Giants cap, diligently keeping score and cheering loudly for her heroes, Matt Cain, Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval.
As for the rest of the sideshow for fans attending the three-day festivities, the parking lots at Kauffman Stadium were filled with tents pushing various MLB sponsors; other tents around the K sold All-Star merchandise and were doing a brisk business. Prices appeared mostly reasonable for that sort of thing -- $30 caps and T-shirts, $115 jerseys. The jerseys were $150 if you wanted them personalized, and please, again... don't put your own name on the back of an All-Star jersey. Just don't.
Give MLB credit. They put on a pretty good show, despite the noncompetitive game, and the players seem to have fun doing it. The ticket prices were noncompetitive, too. Don't even ask, although I'll say these seats cost twice what I paid in 2003 and ten times the 1984 price. Expensive? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.