Royals Fans Vote Early And Often For Their All-Star Favorites
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Baseball fans who tune into the All-Star Game next month might think they're mistakenly watching a Kansas City Royals game. That's because Royals players are leading in the online voting for almost every single starting position. Fans of other American League teams are shocked and outraged, but maybe they just need to be a little more dedicated. NPR's Brian Naylor reports.
BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: Kansas City Royals fans have taken to heart the old Chicago political adage, vote early and vote often - especially the vote often part. Major League Baseball's rules say anyone can vote 35 times for their choice for each starting all-star position, and Royals fans appear to have done just that. Max Rieper is editor of the Royals Review blog. He cites several factors for the Royals' all-star success.
MAX RIEPER: We've had a bad team for so long, and then to finally get a good team to cheer for - it's really brought out the fan base. The attendance is way up this year. The local TV ratings are by far the best in all of baseball right now, so there's just a lot more enthusiasm for the team.
NAYLOR: Last year, of course, the Royals made it to the World Series, and several of their players are legitimate All-Stars. But so far, only Mike Trout of the Angels will break into the sea of blue that looks to be the AL's starting lineup, which brings us to the poster child for those who think the voting is a joke, Omar Infante. He's barely hitting .200 and may soon be benched by his own team. Yet Infante leads in the balloting for second base. Rieper thinks that's due in part to some backlash from Royals fans.
RIEPER: I don't think a lot of Royals fans even want to see him in the starting lineup anymore. But I think that every time people show outrage, it just makes Royals fans hunker down even more and vote another 35 times.
NAYLOR: Rieper says everyone should calm down about the voting, but that's not likely to happen because it's not a meaningless game. The league that wins gets the home-field advantage in this year's World Series. Brian Naylor, NPR News, Washington.
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