Using the most sophisticated method of All-Star determination known to mankind, the online vote, the fans have spoken. And spoken. And spoken until they were sick and tired of typing in that validation code. The 33rd players on each league’s teams were awarded to Detroit Tigers third basemen Brandon Inge and Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino.
In an unprecedented alliance of fans, Tigers and Phillies supporters agreed to vote for one another’s fan favorite, both of whom were second place after the first day of voting, and the “Bran Torino” express raged onward and upward, taking the lead on Wednesday afternoon and never looking back.
I made the case for Brandon Inge a couple years ago, having a realistic notion that he probably wouldn’t win. But I underestimated the huge support from the Tigers fanbase, with the team printing out “VOTE INGE” banners and t-shirts, and backstop signs. They also sweetened the pot by offering a prize package for those who voted at least 100 times.
I also didn’t expect a strategic partnership between the citizens of Detroit and Philadelphia. The catchy tandem name (“Bran Torino”) certainly helped. That and there were no Red Sox players on the ballot. Looking at the other nominees, there didn’t appear to be any marketable hybrid nicknames, except for perhaps Angels third baseman Chone Figgins and Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, rendering them “Chone Kemp.”
Congratulations to Brandon Inge. He’s had a hell of a 2009 to follow up a hellish 2008. It will be fitting if he plays every position, including pitcher and beer vendor, in the All-Star game.