While Royals fans are understandably upset that Zack Greinke won't be starting tonight's All-Star Game, he's a lock to pitch at least an inning. He's been a story all week, and he's rightly earned a reputation as one of the best pitchers in baseball. He's going to a prominent part of the early stages of tonight's game. This is now something of a minor trend, dare we say. Last year, in the 2008 All-Star game, Joakim Soria faced nine batters in the 11th and 12th innings, playing a huge role in an eventual American League victory.
It hasn't always been like this.
In fact, prior to Soria's appearance, the Royals went two straight games without an actual appearance, and nearly twenty years without a single meaningful contribution to the game.
Amazingly, prior to Soria's appearance, no Royal had pitched in an All-Star game since 1999. The record of position players is even worse: no Royal has recorded a hit in the All-Star game since 1989. Hell, a Royal position player hasn't even appeared in the field since 2002. Since 1990, Royal hitters are 0-8 in the Game.
Since the nineties began, Royal All-Star Game history is a long string of did not plays, random pinch-hitters who didn't even make it onto the field defensively, and a handful of pitching performances, nearly all over ten years ago. (After the jump, you'll find a complete listing of what Royal representatives have done in this Hopeless Era.) For the last two decades, the collective imprint the Royals have left on the All-Star Game is comparable to the impact that Northern Ireland has had on the development of reggae.
In this context, Greinke suddenly starting the game, though in many ways simply a ceremonial honor, would have been truly incredible. Maybe not as incredible as the fact that Mark Redman made the team once, but incredible.
Here's the rundown of futility:
2007: Gil Meche named, did not play.
2006: Mark Redman named, did not play.
2005: Mike Sweeney named, struck out as a pinch-hitter in the 7th.
2004: Ken Harvey named, struck out as a pinch-hitter in the 3rd.
2003: Mike MacDougal and Sweeney named, neither appeared.
2002: Mike Sweeney named, replaced Paul Konerko at 1B in the 7th inning, flied out to right in the 9th inning.
2001: Mike Sweeney named, replaced Jason Giambi at first in the 8th inning, flied out to right in the 8th inning.
2000: Jermaine Dye voted to start, Mike Sweeney named. Sweeney pinch-hit for James Baldwin in the 4th, reaching on an error. Sweeney did not appear in the field. Dye walked once and struck out.
1999: Jose Rosado named and pitched a scoreless 4th.
1998: Dean Palmer named, and pinch-hit for John Wetteland in the 8th, grounding into a double play.
1997: Jose Rosado named. Rosado allowed one run in the 7th inning, tying the game at 1-1. However, in the bottom of the 7th the AL re-took the lead on a Sandy Alomar HR. Thanks to the eternal genius of the pitcher wins rule, Rosado was then credited as the eventual "winner" of the game.
1996: Jeff Montgomery named, did not appear.
1995: Kevin Appier named, actually throwing two perfect innings (the 3rd and 4th).
1994: David Cone named, somewhat disastrously. Cone allowed three runs over two innings, contributing to a 8-7 AL loss.
1993: Jeff Montgomery named and appeared, pitching a scoreless 7th.
1992: Jeff Montgomery named and appeared, allowing two runs in two-thirds of an inning pitched.
1991: Danny Tartabull voted to start at DH, going 0-2 with a strikeout. Tartabull was replaced by Harold Baines in the 6th inning.
1990: Brett Saberhagen named, pitching two scoreless innings (5th and 6th), and was named the winning pitcher in a 2-0 AL victory.
1989: Bo Jackson voted a started and Mark Gubicza named to the squad. Bo famously led off the bottom of the first with a homer. Bo went 2-4 with a steal and was named the game's MVP. Gubes pitched a scoreless 4th inning.