'PaulStar' Konerko leads Final Vote early

'PaulStar' Konerko leads Final Vote early

'PaulStar' Konerko leads Final Vote early
CHICAGO -- Paul Konerko leads the 2011 American League All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by Sprint after the first day of voting, with results announced Monday afternoon.

When the White Sox captain was informed of the news in the clubhouse prior to Monday's series opener with the Royals at U.S. Cellular Field, he put forth the following response.

"I haven't heard that," Konerko said. "But I guess that's cool."

For those who have followed Konerko's career or for those who have talked to him and covered him over the years, they know self promotion ranks slightly above an 0-for-50 slump in the order of things to do for the cerebral and professional team captain. Filming goofy commercials in order to push his Final Vote candidacy just isn't on Konerko's agenda, with the first baseman saying as much after finding out he was part of the Final Vote for the second straight year and third time in his career.

That focus on baseball doesn't mean the White Sox can't come up with a creative campaign to market Konerko, and that Konerko won't work along with the ideas.

"We've been through this with Paul a few times," said White Sox vice president of communications Scott Reifert of the 2011 campaign dubbed 'PaulStar.' "We have a pretty good read with what he's comfortable with, and he knows where we might go.

"He is never going to be one to toot his own horn ever about this, or anything else. We get that. We are trying to find a way to have others do it for him to get him what he really deserves."

The White Sox political machine, which helped get Scott Podsednik elected in the 2005 Final Vote and then A.J. Pierzynski through the clever "Punch A.J." campaign in 2006, shifted into high gear on Sunday. Actually, Konerko's stellar numbers caught the White Sox a little off-guard, because they thought he would be chosen outright for the Midsummer Classic.

Instead, Konerko lost out temporarily in a numbers game with Adrian Gonzalez and Miguel Cabrera being selected at first base. Both of their overall statistics are comparable to Konerko's, if not a slight bit better.

Fifty shirts were still passed out to White Sox players at Wrigley Field on Sunday, with Mark Buehrle and Pierzynski just a few of the players sporting them during batting practice. A few shirts were given to fans sitting behind home plate so the "PaulStar" idea would show up on most camera shots during the game's broadcast.

Those shirts are available to be made in the White Sox custom T-shirt shop at the ballpark, going for $14.

Now in its 10th year, the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint 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 Taco Bell and continues until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 7. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.

Mobile voting in the U.S. and Canada is open to everyone. In the U.S., to receive the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice to 89269 (Example: Text "A3" to vote for Konerko). In Canada, fans should text their choices to 65246. Standard message and data rates may apply.

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 Chevy via the 2011 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.

The 82nd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, and around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 7 p.m. CT. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.

There will be an extra treat for fans who participate in the Final Vote. If you are not a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you are eligible to receive a 10-day free trial of MLB.TV from July 9-19. If you are a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you will receive a 15-percent discount to the MLB.com Shop. MLB.com will send an e-mail on July 8 to all Final Vote voters with instructions on how to redeem the applicable offer.

Primary focus for the Konerko campaign falls upon "creating something unique inside the ballpark and something unique outside the ballpark, through social media or video, something people can consume online," according to Reifert.

Other White Sox ideas involve a great deal of fan interaction, with the ability to vote at the ballpark as a group. There's also the tie in between Konerko and the Dodgers' Andre Ethier, with this partnership focused on getting both Arizona hometown players back to Chase Field for the Midsummer Classic.

A little creativity will be employed to put something together that works in U.S. Cellular Field and in Los Angeles. The Tigers and Phillies have a "Victor-Victorino" program for Victor Martinez and Shane Victorino, while the Dodgers and White Sox unnamed program is aimed at letting Konerko and Ethier sleep in their own beds for four days.

Ethier was second behind Victorino in Monday's results, while Martinez stood second behind Konerko. The White Sox have an advantage being home all week, with Pierzynski urging the fans to vote during Monday's pregame speech to the stadium, while the other candidates are all on the road. Jake Peavy added that White Sox players who aren't in the lineup will be voting during games.

Of course, the biggest advantage and easiest part of this campaign centers on Konerko apparently being the most deserving.

"Alex is very deserving -- his numbers speak for him, but so do [Paul] Konerko's," said Royals manager Ned Yost of Konerko and Alex Gordon, who also is on the Final Vote Ballot. "It's tough to include everyone on an All-Star team, but it's very, very hard to ignore the kind of year [Konerko's] having."

"We need to get our captain to Arizona," Peavy said. "That's the bottom line."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Being Ozzie Guillen, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.