In 1933, the first All-Star Game was held. From 1933 to
1946, managers had complete control over the lineups. They selected the
starters, the reserves, the pitchers, etc. In 1947, fans were given the chance
to vote for players in the starting lineup. This was all fine and dandy until
1957, when the fans of the Cincinatti Reds stuffed ballot boxes, resulting in a
National League starting lineup made up of seven Reds and Stan Musial. Then-MLB
commissioner Ford Frick stepped in and replaced Wally Post and Gus Bell with
Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, and revoked the privilege of allowing the fans to
vote. It wasn't until 1970 that fans were allowed to vote again.
Since polls close the Sunday prior to All-Star weekend,
there is a week before the game with no fan interactivity. In 2002, the MLB
took voting one step further to keep fans involved up until the day before the
game. The All-Star Final Vote was added, which allows fans to vote on which of
the five nominees chosen by the team's manager gets the final roster spot.
Since the first Final Vote in 2002, the contest has grown at
an exponential rate. In its first year, less than four million votes were cast.
The next year, a total of 10.8 million votes were cast. 2007 saw 23 million
votes cast, and that number more than double by 2008 when 47.8 million votes
were cast. Entering today, 33.2 million votes have already been cast this year,
and the contest has only been opened for two days, meaning that if the same
pace is maintained, the vote total can easily break 75 million.
What is interesting about the Final Vote is that it gets
almost as much, if not more attention than normal All-Star Game voting. Perhaps
this is because this is the last chance for fans to make their opinions heard
before the game, or maybe because it's a lot quicker to choose just one player
rather than eight. Regardless of the reason, the Final Vote has become a
serious topic of discussion in baseball.
This year, something that we have never seen before has
formed, because of the Final Vote. American League and National League teams
are actually teaming up and endorsing each other, in an attempt to double the
amount of voters. The Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays paired up with each other,
encouraging their fans to not only vote for their respective team's candidate
but for each other's candidate as well. Since American League and National
League voting have no effect on each other, this is a smart move by both teams,
because instead of only the city of Atlanta urging fans to vote for Freddie
Freeman, both Atlanta and Toronto fans are voting for him. The same goes for
Blue Jays relieve Steve Delabar, who is receiving votes from Braves and Blue
Jays fans alike. This partnership is proving successful, as both Freeman and
Delabar are currently leading their respective leagues in votes.
Not only are clubs teaming up with each other, but they are
reaching out for endorsements from other sports as well. The Atlanta Hawks have
also publicly endorsed Freddie Freeman via Twitter. The Los Angeles Lakers are
urging their fans to #VotePuig, as is famous news anchor Larry King and actress
Other teams have followed the Braves' and Blue Jays'
example. The Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants have joined forces,
combining the #VotePence and #BackBenoit campaigns. Both Benoit and Pence have
moved up in the polls since the two teams joined together, so this is clearly
the move to make, and once that I'm sure we will see in future years.
The use of Twitter has greatly increased the number of
voters. Each candidate has their own official Final Vote hashtag. Each hashtag
even has its own Twitter account. These new accounts are so active, that within
days they've reached Klout scores in the 90s, with some even reach 99.
With just under a week left for Final Vote candidates to
take the lead, it's still anyone's game (except maybe Adrian Gonzalez who
endorsed his teammate, Yaisel Puig). With votes coming in by the thousands
every hour, we will just have to wait and see who gets the final spot on the All-Star rosters.