Fans can make Pierzynski an All-Star
Sox catcher a Final Vote candidate; polls open until Thursday
CHICAGO -- Don't be surprised to see A.J. Pierzynski going door-to-door across the Chicagoland area over the next week, shaking hands and even kissing a few babies, in an attempt to drum up support for his candidacy in the Monster 2006 All-Star Final Vote.
"I might have to do a little campaigning," said Pierzynski with a smile.
Actually, Pierzynski taking to the streets might be a bit far-fetched with a full slate of baseball activities against Baltimore and Boston in front of him this week. But it's a safe bet that the White Sox media relations department plans on mobilizing the vote in a way that would impress Chicago Major Richard Daley, one of the city's greatest and most prominent White Sox fans, who might cast a few votes himself.
When Scott Podsednik was a Final Vote candidate for the American League All-Star team in 2005, the White Sox organization put together their forces in an impressive "Vote for Scott" campaign. It featured buttons, T-shirts, Mark Buehrle addressing the crowd before a White Sox game and everything short of skywriting to draw support for Podsednik. The fleet-footed leadoff man eventually was elected to the Midsummer Classic.
Having the White Sox playing at U.S. Cellular Field over the next week, with crowds of more than 30,000 expected each night, certainly won't hurt Pierzynski's cause.
"I hope the chances are pretty good. We'll see," said Pierzynski, who was an All-Star with Minnesota at the 2002 game in Milwaukee. "Hopefully people will get out and vote for the White Sox.
"It's nice we're playing at home the next couple days. People can acknowledge it's going on."
Pierzynski is joined on the Final Vote ballot by Cleveland's Travis Hafner, Baltimore's Ramon Hernandez, Minnesota's Francisco Liriano and Detroit's Justin Verlander. With Pierzynski's hard-nosed demeanor and propensity for coming up with the big hit, the catcher is as popular on the South Side of Chicago as any individual who currently wears the White Sox uniform.
But as White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has said previously, you don't like Pierzynski if you play against him. If he plays on your team, you don't like him a little less -- a thought that could impact his nationwide popularity.
Now in its fifth year, the Monster 2006 All-Star Final Vote gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Chevrolet, and continues until 5 p.m. CT on Thursday. The winners will be announced on ESPN and MLB.com shortly thereafter.
There are two ways for fans to vote for the 2006 All-Star Final Vote - online now at MLB.com, or on-the-go from their cell phones. Fans can also text the word "VOTE" to 36197 to receive the All-Star Final Vote Candidates sent to your phone. To vote for a specific player, simply reply with your choice. For $.30 per text message vote, fans will have the freedom to vote from wherever they are. Fans can get the mobile ballot now. In Canada, fans should text the word "VOTE" to 28776.
The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet at the 77th All-Star Game via the Monster 2006 All-Star Game MVP Vote on MLB.com.
The All-Star Game, to be held at Pittsburgh's PNC Park on Tuesday, July 11, at 7 p.m. CT, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will provide exclusive play-by-play coverage of the game on the Internet.
Pierzynski's .326 average ranks him sixth in the American League. He has five home runs and 26 RBIs, including Saturday's three-run, game-winning blast off Cubs closer Ryan Dempster.
Those numbers pale in comparison to Hafner's 22 home runs and 66 RBIs, not to mention the amazing efforts turned in on the mound by rookies Verlander and Liriano. Pierzynski does stand as one of the most important players on one of the best teams in all of baseball. The ultimate decision, though, will be up to the fans.
There's a hope shared from Guillen all the way down throughout the roster that Pierzynski becomes the seventh player from the team to join the team's coaching staff in Pittsburgh. Even if Pierzynski comes up short in the Final Vote, he certainly has no professional envy in regard to his six teammates selected by the players and by Guillen.
"I know the people who are named off our team, so I can't be disappointed," Pierzynski said. "The guys who made it obviously deserved it. I'm happy for them, and I'm proud of them.
"I'm happy for the guys, especially [Bobby] Jenks for the first time, and for the guys that made it back, like Jermaine [Dye] and [Jim] Thome. They deserve it, and obviously with Jose [Contreras], his first time, that's fun. I'm proud of this team and having Ozzie as the manager, and the coaches that are there."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.