05/21/12 7:55 PM ET
ASG ambassador Brett stops by Fan Cave
By Zachary Finkelstein / MLB.com
A Hall of Famer, an American League MVP and a three-time AL batting champion, Brett was selected to participate in 13 All-Star Games during his illustrious Major League career. However, none of those Midsummer Classic appearances was in Kansas City, which last hosted the game's greatest exhibition in 1973, during Brett's rookie campaign.
So it made perfect sense for Major League Baseball to select Brett as the ambassador for the 83rd Midsummer Classic, to be held at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium on July 10.
On Monday, hours before his team was slated to take the field for the first of a three-game set at Yankee Stadium, Brett made a stop at the MLB Fan Cave, where he shared his sentiments surrounding his first All-Star home game.
"I am real excited about it all. It gives our city a chance to show off the ballpark. It gives our city a chance to entertain a lot of people," said Brett, now in his 19th season as the Royals' vice president of baseball operations.
"The economic impact it's going to have on our city is going to be tremendous. We're going to raise a lot of money for charity. And it's just going to be fun to show off the town I call home."
At the Fan Cave, Brett met TIME Magazine's humor columnist, Joel Stein, who was inspired to write his recently released book, "Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity," after learning that his wife was going to give birth to the couple's first boy.
Petrified that he was too wimpy to raise a son, the slender, scholarly looking Stein stepped out of his comfort zone and into the world of stereotypical masculinity. From inside an Army tank, from which he fired a powerful cannon, to within the chain-link walls of a UFC octagon, where he fought former mixed-martial arts champion Randy Couture, Stein set out to become a little less languid and a bit more masculine.
Or, as Stein put it, "I went out and tried to learn how to be as manly as George Brett is."
With all nine Fan Cave dwellers watching their every move, the acclaimed author sat beside the Hall of Famer as both answered an array of questions designed to qualify their manliness. The queries ranged from the innocuous (favorite reality-television show) to the bizarre (preferred wrestling partner: Couture or an alligator) to the awkward (boxers, briefs or commando).
"Commando. I only wear briefs when I wear a tie," Brett joked.
"Not a man! There should always be two layers between you and everyone else," quickly exclaimed a faux umpire, whose witty retorts clearly demonstrated that the exercise's purpose was to poke fun at societal stereotypes.
"I thought the game was pretty funny," Cave dweller Benjamin Christensen said.
Christensen, who owns jerseys and caps for all 30 big league clubs, arrived at the Fan Cave on Monday in full Royals attire.
"With Joel being the writer, and George being the baseball player that he is, they definitely come from two different aspects of manliness: the intellectual and the brawn," said Christensen. "It was funny to see the contrasting elements that the two brought together."
"Joel Stein, pretty funny guy," Brett said. "I am going to read his book about how to be a man. I think we can all be more manly. But he was a nice guy."
Brett, who always provided maximum effort on the field, is working just as feverishly as the All-Star Game's ambassador.
"I have done a lot of spots [promoting the game] in Kansas City, both on radio and television," he said. "This is my first time on the road. ... A lot of times, when teams come in [to Kauffman Stadium], they have me go on the visiting teams' broadcast in Kansas City and talk about the All-Star festivities.
"During the All-Star Week, it's going to be real hectic. ... I am just looking forward to having as much fun as I possibly can. One thing that I've always tried to do in life is have fun, and I am really looking forward to this."
During the days preceding the All-Star Game, Brett is scheduled to partake in the MLB All-Star FanFest, play in the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game and be the official starter for the MLB All-Star Game Charity 5K & Fun Run presented by Nike.
Brett will also skipper the U.S. team during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, which will feature many of sport's most promising young prospects from around the globe.
Brett managed in the Futures Game in 2005, when then-Royals farmhand and Australia native Justin Huber belted a two-run double to earn MVP accolades.
In speaking with fans through the MLB Fan Cave's official Facebook page, Brett revealed part of his game plan for the approaching exhibition.
"My strategy for managing the Futures Game this year is to win, get everyone in the game and have fun," he told a fan. "When I managed the game when it was in Detroit, I wanted to start a young Tigers pitcher. So I started a young man by the name of Justin Verlander."
"Not a bad decision," said a staffer to Brett's immediate right.
In terms of his own franchise's fortunes, Brett believes the club is poised to take the next step.
"There was a long, long time in this organization where our goal was to play .500 or to not lose 100 games. I think now, with the amount of talent that we've stockpiled, you can't think that way anymore," he said.
"We have some guys who are having bad years this year; there are no ifs, ands or buts about it. But they've proven they can play, the organization has the utmost confidence in them, and we've just got to get them a little better right now. Once they start playing better, we'll start winning more games."
Even after promoting three top prospects in 2011 -- first baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas and the promising but injured pitcher Danny Duffy -- Kansas City's farm system remains one of the sport's deepest.
The Royals, consistent winners during Brett's playing seasons, are seemingly set to ascend back into baseball's upper echelon. And they will have the face of their franchise to thank for their good fortunes.
Zachary Finkelstein is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.