Written by Malcolm Kelner
For as much negative attention the attendees of this year’s Home Run Derby in Kansas City received for the Bronx cheers they gave to Robinson Canó for “snubbing” their hometown guy, and lone Royals representative—Billy Butler (appropriately and affectionately nicknamed “Country Breakfast”)—for the contest, the royal and powder blue-clad fans got virtually no widespread recognition for the warm welcome they gave to another derby contestant.
Carlos Beltran was drafted by the Royals and took home AL Rookie of the Year honors for KC way back in 1999, enjoying a nice start to his career there before getting shipped to Houston in a 2004 midseason trade. Now, after long and short stints, respectively, with the Mets and Giants, the sweet-swinging switch hitter has found himself on the other side of Missouri, playing for the Cardinals. So despite the fact that the Scott Boras-represented Beltran would have bolted for greener pastures anyway after ’04 had he not been dealt to the Astros, and despite the fact that the Cardinals are technically the Royals’ rival team for Interleague Play, Beltran got the biggest cheer, by far, of any Home Run Derby contestant when getting introduced, and got rewarded with more generous cheers after each of the home runs he swatted in the first two rounds, before getting eliminated. And then the next night, during the announcements of the starting lineups for the All-Star Game itself, Beltran was a clear second in cheer volume generated by the fans, only behind Mr. Country Breakfast of course.
Instead of treating Carlos Beltran like that ex-girlfriend who left because she had bigger fish to fry, which would have been completely understandable, the Kansas City faithful were warm and gracious to their former five-tool phenom, and gave him anything but the Canó treatment. So if you’re going to rag on KC for how they treated the Yankees’ second baseman, at least acknowledge their moment of pure class and humility as well.