Votebook: It's all about the click
Online voting makes it easy for fans to decide All-Star starters
There's a wonderful new book out by Andrew Zimbalist that takes a detailed, unflinching look at each of the nine men who have served as Commissioner of Major League Baseball, but it falls short in one crucial area.
Nowhere is it noted that Ford Frick, Commish No. 3, once took away from the fans their right to vote players into the All-Star Game.
In 1957, with an assist from the Cincinnati Enquirer, which printed up a bunch of pre-marked ballots, Reds fans enthusiastically stuffed the ballot box. The result was that seven of the eight position players voted into the National League's starting lineup that year were Reds, and Frick was not amused.
First, he replaced two of the Reds with a couple of pretty fair players by the names of Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. Then he banned fan voting altogether, giving that responsibility to players, coaches and managers from 1958 through 1968. It was a throwback move of sorts, because from 1935 to 1946, the manager of each All-Star team picked his entire squad.
There are those who will argue that players, coaches and managers should still determine the Midsummer Classic rosters, and it's not an argument without merit. Who better to judge a player's worthiness than those who compete with or against him?
A stronger argument, however, is that the All-Star Game is all about the fans who pay the freight. Ergo, the fans should have a strong say in who plays.
If they want to see Cal Ripken Jr. at shortstop one more time before he hangs up the spikes, give 'em what they want, right?
Thankfully, fans were brought back into the voting fold in 1969 -- with a safeguard against a repeat of the sins of Cincy. Since then, each team has been given the exact same number of ballots to distribute at their home ballparks.
Granted, these days you can find additional ballots at any number of national retail stores. But heck, if there are those willing to go to the local Wal Mart to take the trouble of chad-banging until their hands bleed in an effort to get their favorite player some All-Star run, power to the people.
Which brings us to the far less laborious -- and given the astronomical price of petrol these days, expensive -- method of voting at your disposal these days. Through 11:59 p.m. ET on June 29, all you have to do is log on to MLB.com or any of the 30 club sites and use the Monster.com 2006 Online Ballot to vote to your heart's content.
Unless, of course, your heart is set on voting for Nomar Garciaparra 39,000 times. According to Wikipedia, in 1999 -- MLB.com took over online voting in 2001 -- an industrious hacker in Massachusetts was busted trying to do just that.
MLB.com limits each person to 25 online ballots, but that's still a healthy sum, and voting online ensures that you won't stand up after voting the old-school way and have a convention's worth of confetti rain from your lap.
The 77th All-Star Game is set for July 11 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, and if recent history serves as an accurate harbinger, the mouse will prove far mightier than the chad when it comes to tabbing the ballers who take the field for the first pitch.
Last year, for instance, David Ortiz only pulled in 508,649 paper votes, but thanks to more than 3.6 million online votes, Big Papi finished with more votes than anyone else in either league.
It's safe to say that Ortiz didn't just corner the Massachusetts market, too. This is a worldwide thing -- 11.5 million full online ballots were cast in 2005 for a total of 155 million individual votes -- and the success of the inaugural World Baseball Classic has surely inspired surfing around the globe. Fans in Ortiz's native Dominican Republic, as well as Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Curacao and Panama, can vote online, and online voting in Spanish and Japanese starts May 8.
Let's face it. Voting is all the rage these days. The proliferation of reality TV shows such as "American Idol," "Dancing With The Stars" and "Survivor" have made it cooler than ever. But "Idol" voters get it wrong as often as not, "Dancing with the Stars" voters only have half the say in who wins, and on "Survivor," people get voted off the island.
The All-Star Game voters, though, always get it right -- there is no wrong when it comes to fans picking who they want to see in the starting lineup. And only the fans pick those lineups.
Sorry, Mr. Frick. It's all about the click.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.