When it comes to the All-Star Game, I've always functioned under one simple mantra: one man, one vote.
Each summer since balloting was returned to fans in 1970, I've gotten one ballot on a visit to either Camden Yards or Memorial Stadium and punched out my dream team. I usually wait until near the end of the voting - wouldn't want to have an untimely slump or injury make me regret a certain selection, right - and dutifully use my car key to punch out the appropriate player's slot. Heck, long before dangling chads got in the way of that election in Florida, I was wondering if a not-all-the-way-punched slot on the ballot would be correctly counted.
Even as voting morphed into cyberspace a few years back, I've preferred the hand-held paper ballot, and only one an election cycle. The couple of times I've voted online instead of with a paper ballot, it's been only one vote, in accordance with my long-held belief.
Well, I've yet to fill out my ballot for the July 10 Midsummer Classic in Kansas City. But I'm thinking there's no time like the present to embrace something new - the notion that several Orioles are close enough in the recently released tally that the days of a single vote are going the way of 33rd Street. Well, if there's going to be sufficient orange in a sea of royal blue in the land of Arthur Bryant's BBQ next month.
Here's what you need to know: Through the results of June 5, O's catcher Matt Wieters is second in the voting, center fielder Adam Jones is fifth, shortstop J.J. Hardy is third and second baseman Robert Andino is fourth. Wieters, who trailed Texas' Mike Napoli by a little more than 511,000 votes, and Jones, who was about 135,000 votes out of the starting outfield, are within striking distance. Hardy and Andino have a lot more ground to make up. But this is where you come in.
The O's want you to vote - early, often, from home, at the ballpark, on your PC, using your tablet, via your mobile phone. If you can vote on it, you should (and don't forget those old-school paper ballots, too). Fans can vote up to 25 times per email address at Orioles.com, and it only takes a brief time to cast the maximum votes. Anyone that votes the maximum number of times is entered into a contest to win an autographed jersey.
Since you can't have an election without a catchy slogan, the Orioles have settled on "Vote Orange" for this initiative (or, for you Twitter-friendly types, #VoteOrange as a hashtag). Share it with your friends, and encourage them to, well, Vote Orange - the O's ticket, so to speak. In fact, Jones, Hardy and Andino have recorded a public service announcement - I'm sure you'll hear the words, "I'm Adam Jones and I approved this message" in there somewhere - that will start playing on the center field scoreboard tonight, when the O's open a three-game interleague series against the Phillies.
Want to show your friends that you've done your civic baseball duty? Stop by the Fan Assistance Center at Camden Yards, beginning with tonight's game, and you'll receive an "I Voted #VoteOrange" campaign sticker you can proudly wear. You'll also get a voucher worth $5 off a ticket for a future Orioles game. If you've already voted the maximum number of times, just show the Fan Assistance Center workers the message you received upon doing so, and you'll get the sticker and coupon.
Now, enough reading. Don't you have some voting to do?
(One word of caution. There's a new round of voting that will be announced Monday - but it won't include this weekend's balloting, or any bump in totals from the Vote Orange campaign. So don't worry, just vote and those votes will eventually be recorded.)
Update: The most recent vote tallies have been released, but keep in mind these totals don't include votes cast over the weekend. Andino is fourth, about 635,000 votes behind third-place Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox. At shortstop, Hardy is third, trailing Texas Elvis Andrus by about 785,000 votes. Wieters has slipped to third with 904,425 votes, about 9,000 behind the Twins' Joe Mauer. Jones is fifth among outfielders, a little more than 80,000 away from a starting nod.