News From Left Field


Fans Rally Around “Vote for Manny” Campaign

June 01, 2009 07:30 AM
by Denis Cummings
A fan’s online campaign to vote suspended drug user Manny Ramirez into the All-Star game ridicules baseball’s steroid policies and All-Star voting procedure.

Vote for Manny

Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez was suspended on May 7 for 50 games after he tested positive for a banned substance. Despite his suspension, Ramirez is still eligible to play in the July 14 All-Star game, played 11 days after his suspension ends.

Early results of the fan voting for All-Star starters, which began April 22, revealed Tuesday that Ramirez was placed fourth in voting for outfielder, the first three of whom will start. After hearing the news, one fan, believing that “it would be funny if Manny got elected,” started a Web site encouraging fans to vote for Ramirez, reported The Associated Press.

Jason Rosenberg, who writes the baseball blog It is about the money, stupid, started Vote for Manny Tuesday night, and the Web site has received a great deal of attention in the media and on the Internet.

Rosenberg says that he did not create the site to support Ramirez or to defend the use of performance-enhancing drugs, though he did tell AP that the voting shows, “Most fans have had enough PED discussion, the steroids discussion, are sick of hearing it.”

Rather, as he explains on Vote for Manny, he wants to “illustrate the joke that the voting, the ‘this time it counts’/World Series home field advantage rule, the mandatory representation, the still-soft PED rules … has become. I want to see the best players selected, not the most popular.”

The Web site has the support of many fans who dislike MLB commissioner Bud Selig and want to stir up a public relations disaster for MLB. With the publicity generated by the site, Ramirez will likely receive enough votes to make the game.

Selig would be forced to make a difficult decision on whether he should be allowed to play, though there is also a good chance that Ramirez—who has skipped three All-Star games due to mysterious injuries—will pull out of the game himself.

Neither Ramirez nor Selig has commented on the situation, but the Los Angeles Times reports that Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said Thursday that he would support Ramirez’s participation in the game. “Do I want to see him?” he asked. “Sure, if he gets voted in. It’d be a great honor.”

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Opinion & Analysis: Should you vote for Manny?

Many fans and writers are supportive of the campaign. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Scott Ostler says that he has voted for Manny for the entertainment factor and because it “would highlight the absurdity of fan voting.”

He also argues that it would be hypocritical to single out Manny as a cheat; “If the All-Star voting system somehow weeded out all juicers, the teams would have to suit up stadium hot-dog vendors,” he writes.

Others support the idea just to make Selig uncomfortable, but the New York Post’s Joel Sherman believes that Selig would prefer that the game have the publicity generated by Ramirez.

“So if an admitted drug cheat will increase ratings, do you really think Selig—and FOX—want him staying home?” he asks. “Do you really think that Selig and those FOX execs would rather have those at-bats go to, say, Nate McLouth or Ramirez?”

The Virginian-Pilot’s Bob Molinaro agrees with Rosenberg that fans are tired of the constant coverage of steroid use. “But enough is enough. While wrestling with steroids, baseball has been too grim for too long,” he writes. “The votes for Manny suggest that it’s time to lighten up.”

NESN’s Eric Ortiz disagrees, saying that “such indifference can lead to trouble beyond the playing field.” He makes the argument that by allowing steroid users to get off easy, baseball would be sending a bad message to kids.

“Voting Manny into the starting lineup for the All-Star Game might seem like an innocent gesture or funny,” he writes. “But before checking the box for him, consider the consequences of becoming a culture where there are no consequences for making a mistake.”

Background: Voting controversies

The MLB All-Star game is no stranger to voting controversies. In 1957, seven Cincinnati Reds players were voted into the All-Star game after the Cincinnati Enquirer distributed pre-printed All-Star ballots to fans. Commissioner Ford Frick removed two from the game and suspended fan voting, which didn’t return until 1970.

Ballot-stuffing is common in fan voting and there have been many odd choices over the years, recounts the Seattle Times’ Larry Stone. For example, in 1989 Phillies Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt was voted as the National League’s stating third baseman even though he had retired in the spring.

In the Internet age, leading a campaign for players, even those who aren’t considered All-Star level, has become easy. In 2007, hockey fans started a write-in campaign for unheralded Canuck defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick; it appeared that Fitzpatrick would be elected until two other defensemen received large bounces in the final week of leading, leading to theories that the NHL fixed the vote to keep Fitzpatrick out.

Web sites have also been created for satirical political campaigns. This year fans of the St. Louis Blues encouraged fans to vote for Blues rookie T.J. Oshie in the St. Louis mayoral election. After one fan voted for Oshie as mayor of a St. Louis suburb and displayed his ballot online, election officials considered charges against the fan.

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