KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The relentless booing of the Yankees’ Robinson Cano by Kansas City fans during the All-Star Home Run Derby on Monday night drew national attention, and in some places scorn.
Fans were upset after the captain of the American League squad said he would choose a hometown player for his four-man team, but instead bypassed Royals star Billy Butler and went with Prince Fielder, of the Tigers; Mark Trumbo, of the Angels; and Jose Bautista, of the Blue Jays.
Fielder won the competition.
Cano wound up going 0 for 10, though, and each failure was met by cheers. Cano brushed off the cold reception, but others weren’t so kind to Kansas City. Several national TV broadcasters, radio hosts and columnists called the fans everything from “jerks” to “classless.”
“Robinson Cano certainly picked people he thought should be on there,” Commissioner Bud Selig told the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Tuesday. “While I understand Kansas City and I understand the whole Billy Butler thing, I really felt very badly last night.”
Union head Michael Weiner thought the level of jeering was not justified.
“It struck me that it moved a little bit past traditional, good-natured booing, particularly for an event like that, and got into another area,” Weiner said.
Cano said that he was prepared for a frigid reception, even though it appeared to rattle him every time his father, Jose, delivered a pitch that he popped up, fouled off or grounded out.
The booing didn’t stop on Tuesday night, either. While fans cheered every other player during pregame introductions – including fellow Yankees Derek Jeter and Granderson – they still jeered Cano when he trotted out from the home dugout.
Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun questioned the practice of having players pick the teams.
“I understand why they have a captain, but I also feel like it puts guys in uncomfortable positions,” he said, adding that he’s certain David Wright of the Mets will be chosen next year, when the All-Star Game is played at Citi Field in New York.
The passionate reaction by Royals fans created plenty of drama, though, particularly in an event that often becomes stale by the time the first round grinds to a conclusion.
Viewership for ESPN was up 3 percent over last year, and in New York, there was a 10 percent increase.
There were more than 800,000 Twitter and Facebook comments throughout the night, twice the volume of last year, and Twitter’s top 10 trends worldwide were related to the derby when the final round began.
“Kansas City fans are better than that, but I don’t get on them,” said Chris Berman, who called the derby for ESPN. “I get it, but the three guys he picked were the three top guys.”
Butler, who made his first All-Star team this season, did his best to deflect questions about the relentless booing. He said that he appreciated Kansas City fans for their support, and that he spoke to Cano after the derby to make sure everything was fine.
“There are no hard feelings. There never was,” Butler said. “Me and Robbie are great friends, we’re great competitors, and love playing each other.”