In the 10th year of the All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint, Major League Baseball fans were as certain as ever about their choices. Those two were rare double wire-to-wire winners in the balloting at MLB.com and were added as 34th and final men for the 82nd All-Star Game on Tuesday at Chase Field in Phoenix.
Victorino led all candidates with 9.2 million votes to become the first two-time winner in the Final Vote. Unlike 2009, when the Phillies center fielder rallied in the last 24 hours to join Brandon Inge in the successful "Bran Torino" campaign finish, Victorino led every MLB.com update this time. He won the National League race over Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier, Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, Nationals left fielder Michael Morse and D-backs pitcher Ian Kennedy.
Victorino will not be able to carry out his mandate from fans, though. On Friday, the Phillies announced that he is being placed for a second time this season on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to July 4, with a ligament sprain in his right thumb. Ethier subsequently was named to replace him.
"The past few days have been incredible," Victorino said. "To take the lead from day one shows how supportive the fans have been from the start of the campaign. Just to be on the ballot was exciting, but to be the first player to be selected by the fans twice is such a tremendous honor. The fans in Philadelphia and Hawaii as well as my offseason home in Las Vegas are so loyal to me -- that's what means more than anything. I would also like to thank the Detroit fans for their support, as well as all fans around baseball, who thought I was worthy of this final All-Star spot. Mahalo to everyone for making my trip to Arizona possible."
Konerko, the White Sox first baseman and American League Triple Crown contender, received 8.4 million votes and finally won the fans' nod after coming up short in the 2004 and 2010 Final Vote campaigns. He joins AL manager Ron Washington's bench after staving off a furious charge on the final day by division rival Victor Martinez of the Tigers -- whose own son gave him a big boost. Behind them in the final ballot standings were Royals left fielder Alex Gordon, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones and Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist.
"Anytime you get a chance to go to play in something like that, I still respect the game," said Konerko, who joked how his mom contributed probably one million of his vote total. "I don't think, for me, you ever play long enough or do enough where going to the All-Star Game isn't a big deal. It still is a big deal."
It is the fifth All-Star selection for Konerko, as he lives up to his campaign's successful "PaulStar" moniker. He finished third last year behind winner Nick Swisher, yet was added nevertheless as a reserve. Konerko entered Thursday's home game against Minnesota ranked fourth in the AL in home runs (22) and RBIs (64), and sixth with a .319 batting average.
With the victories, the White Sox and Phillies both matched the Red Sox for most Final Vote triumphs by a club, with three. Konerko joins other White Sox winners Scott Podsednik in 2005 and A.J. Pierzynski in 2006. In addition to Victorino's two victories, the Phillies also were successfully represented in 2004 by Bobby Abreu.
No Midsummer Classic host ever has had a Final Vote winner, as Kennedy's bid fell short.
Fans and clubs alike took to several available platforms to demonstrate and rally support for the 10 candidates during the four days of balloting. That included mobile text voting, where Gordon and Helton were the leading mobile vote-getters and where fans cast nearly 40 percent more mobile votes than the previous record set in 2008.
Again this year, clubs formed official alliances (Send Paul and Andre Home; Vote the Beltways Ballot; Help Zo Go and Vote Ian In; Vote Rox and Royals; and Vote Victor/Victorino) to join forces while fans, teammates, local politicians and celebrities took to social media outlets to push for their favorite candidates, leading to over 50 million total votes being cast.
Endorsements came via Twitter from some of the players' most famous fans, including Arizona Sen. John McCain endorsing a Kennedy (from the Midsummer Classic host D-backs); Shaquille O'Neal boosting support for Victorino; John Wall backing fellow DC star Morse; and American Idol winner David Cook and actress Alyssa Milano rallying for Gordon and Ethier, respectively. Those last two candidates also received the social-media support of Dwyane Wade, Adrian Peterson, Matt Duchene and Carson Daly.
Previous winners of the Final Vote were: Swisher (AL, 2010); Joey Votto (NL, 2010); Inge (AL, 2009), Victorino (NL, 2009); Evan Longoria (AL, 2008); Corey Hart (NL, 2008); Hideki Okajima (AL, 2007); Chris Young (NL, 2007); Pierzynski (AL, 2006); Nomar Garciaparra (NL, 2006); Podsednik (AL, 2005); Roy Oswalt (NL, 2005); Hideki Matsui (AL, 2004); Bobby Abreu (NL, 2004); Jason Varitek (AL, 2003); Geoff Jenkins (NL, 2003); Johnny Damon (AL, 2002); and Andruw Jones (NL, 2002).
If you voted and 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 Saturday through July 19. If you voted and 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 email on Friday to all Final Vote voters with instructions on how to redeem the applicable offer.
There will be one more phase of All-Star Game voting. Fans will be asked to help decide the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2011 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint. That voting will take place on MLB.com during the Midsummer Classic.
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 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.