Alex Gordon began his professional baseball career as a phenom. You remember that. People talked about a left-handed hitting third baseman who grew up going to Royals games and by the time George Brett said he was honored by the comparison, well, the hype would not stop.

Gordon quickly became a bust. You remember that, too. He struck out and got hurt and booted grounders and then went to Omaha to learn a new position and make room for the next phenom.

That began the next phase of Gordon's career, the Whipping Boy Years, because Royals fans have deep scars and are by now used to seeing can't-miss prospects miss. So Gordon became the butt of jokes, the object of scorn, forgotten and damaged goods until this crazy last few months when Gordon became something else entirely:

A very good player, a central part of the Royals' future, and now, the object of a fan rally to vote him to the American League All-Star team's final spot.

A year ago, Gordon was the spoiled and stubborn ballplayer who wouldn't listen to coaching, in many ways the embodiment of a franchise's lost generation.

Today, Gordon is the Royals' best all-around player and statistically the most productive left fielder in the American League.

A player once criticized for being unable to handle failure is at the moment a crucial success story because he came back after too many assumed him to be done.

The worry goes from wasted time and millions to just hoping for a quick recovery from getting hit in the knee by a pitch Sunday.