The lengths to which Major League Baseball is going to generate interest in the All-Star Game have crossed the line, in my opinion.
It has been over a decade since the Final Vote was created. The move to allow fans to select the last player on each league’s roster was made in part to deflect annual criticism that deserving players are left off the teams.
Of course, that will continue to be the case no matter what size to which the rosters are expanded. They are now at 34 players per league after being 30 when the Final Vote first began in 2002.
Then, there is the business value of the millions of clicks on the mother ship’s website as votes are being cast, first for the starters, then for the final player. That advantage surely was not lost on MLB’s suits.
Individual team marketing departments have taken an expanded role in the balloting. This is currently evidenced by the Final Vote, as faux campaigns to bring out the fan vote are being created.
For example, the Cardinals and White Sox, not satisfied with getting their own fans engaged, developed a contrived alliance specifically for the Final Vote. The intent is to encourage South Side followers to vote for Cardinal David Freese while Redbirds fans are asked for vote for Jake Peavy.
The vast majority of these voters have likely never seen the players for whom they are being asked to vote. The few Sox fans who remember Freese probably have memories of his 2011 World Series heroics, while this vote is for the 2012 All-Star team. But why should any of that matter, right?
On Thursday, the final day of the Final Vote, MLB took matters one step farther. They essentially declared war on Twitter and those who actually hope to find useful information there.
Specifically, MLB proclaimed that any tweets from noon to 4 PM ET by anyone that uses the special twitter tags for each eligible player will be counted as valid Final Votes.
Expect to see the “fail whale” during that time as fired-up fans cast their votes in blitzkrieg fashion. In doing so, some are risking suspension of their Twitter privileges.
According to posted Twitter rules, users can make up to 1,000 tweets per day, but the daily limit is further broken down into smaller limits for semi-hourly intervals. The specifics of the latter are undefined.
I get that Freese is deserving of an all-star berth and fans want to help make that happen, but the process has clearly gotten out of hand. In my opinion, the Final Vote result, for whoever it will be, is devalued by the method of its creation.