Voting for the All-Star team rosters has begun.
MLB allows each fan to vote 25 times per email address. They make it easy and fast to vote. I voted the maximum number of times this morning and it only took a couple of minutes. You can cast your vote right now for your favorite current (Votto, Phillips, Choo, Frazier, Bruce), past (Dunn, Encarnacion, Stubbs, Gomes) or future (Willingham) Reds’ player. It’s a nerdy thrill to see them make the starting lineup or play in the game. Imagine Shin-Soo Choo in a Reds uniform starting the All-Star Game!
But remember last year’s ASG voting?
Brandon Phillips not only wasn’t a starter, thanks to Tony LaRussa he didn’t even make the team. Brandon Belt (!) nearly beat out Joey Votto at first base.
Part of the blame for that lies with the Reds front office. In general, I’ve lauded the Reds for their savvy marketing. And recall 2010 when the club conducted an enthusiastic and effective voting campaign to have Joey Votto elected as the last player to the NL All-Star squad.
But overall, the Reds do a lousy job of promoting their players for the All-Star team. Both inside the stadium during the 25 games where fans can vote in person and online, the club clearly displays that helping their players make the All-Star roster is a low priority. Sure, the GABP ushers dutifully pass out and collect ballots in most sections on most nights. There are brief scoreboard mentions once per night. But otherwise, there is little to no meaningful effort made in GABP.
To make matters worse, the face of the organization’s social media effort is a guy who last year tweeted an ugly challenge to fans to fight him, and a broadcasting team that regularly mocks people who use Facebook and Twitter.
Compare that to the San Francisco Giants’ organization (you remember the Giants).
They were aggressive and modern in their deployment of social media for ASG voting. For example, they used platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to urge fans to vote. They ran near-constant reminders on TV, radio and banner ads. Brand-new HP touchscreens were provided at various locations inside AT&T Park. Local WiFi networks received signal boosts so fans could vote in their seats during the game. The Giants even allowed access to their own WiFi service during games to connect fans with the ability to cast mobile votes. They instructed fans in how to legally vote from multiple email addresses (including the gmail address tricks).
The result was a virtual stuffing of the ballot box. Three Giants players, including Melky Cabrera, started for the NL All-Star team. Pablo Sandoval received more votes than David Wright. Light-hitting Brandon Crawford finished second at SS. And Freddie Sanchez — who hadn’t played all season due to injury — received 2.3 million votes (BP received 3.1 million).
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Stuffing the ASG ballot box is actually a glorious tradition for our city and team. In 1957, Cincinnati Reds’ fans were successful in electing Reds players for seven out of the eight National League starting positions. The only non-Reds player elected was a guy named Stan Musial. An investigation by the Commissioner’s office revealed that over half of all ballots cast were from Cincinnati. It turns out the Cincinnati Enquirer had printed up pre-marked ballots and distributed them with the Sunday newspaper to make it easier for Reds fans to vote often for their favorite players. This incident led Commissioner Ford Frick to intervene, place Willy Mays and Hank Aaron in the starting lineup and end the practice of fan voting until it was restored in 1969.
Let’s make 2013 different than 2012. Don’t leave our players’ fates up to the Charlie Manuels and Tony LaRussas of the world.
And after you vote, let us know about it in the comments section of any thread.
Redleg Nation, fulfill your civic duty.
Vote early, vote often, vote Reds!
Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.