18 June 2010

Kansas City and the All Star Game

Baseball did a great thing yesterday by awarding the 2012 All Star Game to Kauffman Stadium, the Kansas City Royals' home park. What a perfect way to draw attention to the multi-million dollar renovation of what has always been one of the more beautiful parks in baseball--especially among those from the "cookie cutter" era of the 1960s and 1970s. Also, what a great way to help a struggling team sell some season tickets (although I'm not sure the Royals should be rewarded after signing players below replacement level).

Throw in the opportunity this provides for baseball to honor the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and this makes Kansas City an excellent venue for the ASG. So, of course this means that we'll have plenty of jerks coming from all corners disparaging the choice. Enter Bill Simmons, Randy Booth and Barry Petchesky (I'm sure those last two guys have never heard of me either).

First, Simmons* checks in with a series of tweets:
  • Yeah!!!! Four days in Kansas City in mid-July when it's 110 degrees!!!!! Who's in???
  • Agreed. Or what about the new NYC parks? Or DC? Or Philly? RT @hagem050: Shoulda given the All-Star game to the new Target Field in Sota.
  • It's a new stadium??? I take it all back. I'm in - KC in 2011! RT @JBrisco82: @sportsguy33 Have you been to the new Royals stadium?**
*The Sports Guy is one of the few Celts/Bruins/Sox/Pats fan on the planet whom I respect, which is why I'm attacking him for his dissing of KC rather than referring to another recent sporting event.

**I'm pretty sure that last one was sarcasm.

Then, Mr. Petchesky piped up:
Here is where we remind you of all the new ballparks around the league that have never hosted an All-Star Game: the Great American Ballpark, Nationals Park, Citi Field, CItizens [sic] Bank Park, PETCO Park, Target Field, New Yankee Stadium...

Sure, Bud Selig promises a $70 million economic impact for Kansas City. But those estimates have repeatedly been debunked as, well, bunk. Much of that money would have been spent on something else, and much of it goes outside the region.
The Deadspin columnist is obviously unaware of Kauffman Stadium's renovation or the NLBM (or the proper use of capitalization). Moreover, I'm not exactly sure where the author received his MBA, but I've never read that All Star Games don't produce economic benefits (unlike publicly funded stadia or the Olympics). Basically, KC gets to add the equivalent of three games (the HR Derby, Futures Game, and the main event) to their schedule that are guaranteed to sell out for well above the average price for a Royals game. Where's the bunk? Who's spending money outside the KC region when they go to KC?

And isn't the fact that "much of that money would have been spent on something else" the entire point altogether?

And finally, there's the Red Sox Blogger, Mr. Booth, whom we find whining that the game isn't being held at Fenway on its centennial:
Most importantly, 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park. That's 100 years of America's favorite ballpark (I stick by that statement)... These milestones do not come along very often in history. In fact, a 100 year anniversary comes around once. Ever. I'm not sure if you actually realized that or not.
Yes, Randy, we realized that. We just don't care. Because it doesn't mean anything. I'm not sure if you actually realized that or not. Fenway had the All Star Game eleven years ago, and now you want it again? Sure it's also a renovated venue, although not nearly as heavily made-over as Kaufmann. And it's not like Fenway needs any additional exposure, or that the Red Sox need more money, or that Boston fans need to be encouraged to go to games.

Bloggers extraordinaire Craig Calcaterra and Rob Neyer (unsurprisingly, since he's a KC native) have come to the defense of Selig, Kansas City, and the decision itself, leveling a charge that I would typically refer to as tired or overblown: East Coast Bias. In this case, this proud, lifelong East Coaster cannot disagree. However, I do think this particular example is unique to a loud minority of Sox fans and other malcontents including Simmons, Booth, and their followers, if perhaps only because the Yanks, Mets and Nats can reasonably expect to host the ASG in the near future.

When I heard about Selig's decision, I applauded it. When I read about the naysayers, I began to clap even louder. This form of sports commentary is so petty, so uninformed, and so unenlightening that it doesn't have a place--even on the Internet. I know that objectivity isn't part of the sports reporting landscape anymore (if it ever really was), and so I don't expect it and I certainly don't abide by it. What I do expect is those who own soapboxes to do their research, to demonstrate some understanding of subject about which they claim knowledge (in this case beauty, history, significance and context), before they step up and start yelling.

Is this just anti-BoSox bias on my behalf? It's quite possible. I've never been to Kansas City, MO, and last night reminded me that there are few things that light up my life than the collective breaking hearts of 4.4 million Bostonians (sorry, Bill). But that doesn't make me wrong.

Bud made the right call.


Erik Christiansen said...

Plus, Kansas City has amazing BBQ, whereas Boston has beans.

JD Mathewson said...

In re: Boston and Beans: Jim Gaffigan

Puneet said...

Agreed. And frankly, Bill Simmons can be funny at times but he's also a sarcastic jerk. Also I dunno if its official but the 2013 game being at Citi Field has been a year-long rumor and 2012's an AL year so another point against idiots that brings up Citi or Nationals Park.

Unknown said...

Definitely agreed. I think it's a phenomenal choice. Great baseball city, beautiful stadium (even before the reno).

Yankees just held it, so yeah, they don't need another. Phillies, Red Sox, Padres, maybe others on that list all held it in the 90's.

JD Mathewson said...

Nats have requested the 2014 game (or so says WaPo).