|July 9, 2010|
|All-Star Campaigns Using Full PR Lineup|
|By Greg Hazley|
|While the basketball world is preoccupied with the nauseatingly protracted pursuit of Lebron James, more PR-oriented pitches for Major League Baseball's All-Star team are in full swing.|
Political campaign-like pitches, strategic cross-league alliances and grassroots appeals are the plays of the week in MLB as ball clubs work to take advantage of the unlimited online voting rules for the high-profile roster.
In baseball, the previous year's World Series managers wield considerable influence over the All-Star team selection, but fan voting plays a key role, leaving an opening for teams to lobby their faithful behind an overlooked (or downright snubbed) star.
Voting closes today at four p.m. with five candidates from each league eligible for two slots.
Teams and fans are going to great lengths to run up the vote tallies, using social media, email, advertising efforts to get their guy on the roster.
The Minnesota Twins have coined the catchy "Drive in Delmon" campaign to support left fielder Delmon Young for the American League spot.
Direct marketing was employed in an email from Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) this week on behalf of first baseman Kevin Youkilis, a final-slot candidate from the Boston Red Sox.
The Cincinnati Reds and fans are mobilizing support for slugging first baseman Joey Votto, who torched the Mets for two home runs on Monday night, as the team has booked Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) to publicly cast his ballot for Votto at Great American Ballpark.
Some teams are even forming interleague alliances. The Washington Nationals have teamed with the Texas Rangers to mount the "Third Base Ticket" promoting their respective third basemen Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Young. The sluggers taped messages to air at their partners' stadiums to get out the vote this week.
The Reds are working with the Red Sox on a Votto-Youkilis ticket but none of the double-team campaigns has the sweet slogan of the Phillies-Tigers effort on behalf of Shane Victorino and Brandon Inge dubbed "BranTorino."
This blogger remembers filling out a stack of punch-card ballots at the old Shea Stadium every year in the late 1980s, lining them up so my votes for the likes of Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter and Kevin Elster would register.
The digital era has leveled the playing field among teams with smaller ballparks and lesser followings. That campaign parity is evident as the mighty New York Yankees have seen their beloved right fielder Nick Swisher fall to second behind Youkilis in a tight race in the balloting despite a full-court press by the team.
(Update: Swisher prevailed with help from Yankees media relations staff who held signs promoting his candidacy during live shots of the "Today Show.")
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