Kansas City and the All Star “DNP” Tradition

The big boys are coming to our house this year, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be allowed to play with them.

The Royals host the All Star Game this year, and it is a huge event for Kansas City. But the hopes of KC fans that their team would be well represented at home were disappointed.

Ever since the announcement was made that KC would be home to the 2012 All Star Game, the question has been would the Royals have more than one player named to the team?

But a 12-game losing streak, a sluggish start by a few young stars, and injuries conspired to limit the Royals to just one representative.

Billy Butler rightfully was named the Royals’ rep. And he’ll hobnob with baseball royalty at our very own Kauffman Stadium in what is a great exposure of Kansas City. It will be a great economic and cultural event for the city.

But it won’t do much for healing the wounds Royals have taken from the mid-summer classic over the past decade. Three letters describe the slight baseball has dealt the Royals: DNP.

Six of the last ten KC representatives in the midsummer classic never left the bench.

In case you were like most fans who paid almost no notice to whether Royals played or not over the past decade:

2011: Aaron Crow – DNP.
2010: Joakim Soria – DNP.
2007: Gil Meche – DNP.
2006: Mark Redman – DNP.
2003: Mike Sweeney and Mike MacDougal – DNP.

Having lacked a legitimate “star” for years, it’s been a long time since Royals fans had much reason to care about the All-Star Game. So all the DNPs seem to have gone by without much notice. Lesser players are often forced to wait until late in the games to pinch-hit, or are held out for extra innings. So most casual fans have gone to bed by the time the benches start clearing.

I made the case a year ago that this was no coincidence.

During a 13-year stretch – 1990 to 2002 – when the team was pretty bad, the Royals had just one DNP – Jeff Montgomery in 1996. So based on that fact, it would appear Royals representatives are not getting into the games as frequently as they once did.

And it wasn’t that all the Royals representatives during that period were legitimate stars (see Jose Rosado in 1997 and 1999 and Dean Palmer in 1998).

It all started with what looks like the biggest slap in the face back in 2003. In the one season when the Royals were actually good – leading the Central Division with a 51-41 mark – the Royals sent legit slugger Sweeney and lights-out closer (at the time) McDougal to the game.

And neither played.

Since then, the American League seems to be making no effort to get Royals into the game.

Butler will not record a DNP this year. Most of the DNPs have been logged by pitchers, which isn’t that uncommon. And being as the game is in KC, they will finally make it a priority to get the Royals’ rep in the game.

Butler will play, no doubt. Sadly it will probably be in a pinch-hitting role. He’ll come up for one short at bat, go to the bench, and the Royals’ presence will be barely noticed.

But strangely the slight doesn’t end there.

For once the Royals had a rep who could conceivably participate in the second-biggest event of the All Star Break, the Home Run Derby. The door was open for Butler, and Robinson Cano even said he would invite a Royal.

But this year the Royals will sadly record a different DNP – Did Not Participate in the derby.

Good luck in your All Star appearance, Billy. You deserve it. The Royals deserve it. The city deserves it.

I’m afraid next year we’ll go back to the usual DNP.

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