7/9/2013 9:30 A.M. ET
Delabar keeping grip on early Final Vote lead
Blue Jays' #RaiseTheBar campaign could send reliever to Midsummer Classic
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' social media campaign to get Steve Delabar elected to the upcoming All-Star Game is well underway, and it appears to be paying off so far as the reliever is holding his lead in the American League, according to Tuesday's update in the Final Vote.
Delabar is one of five AL candidates for the Final Vote, which is a fan ballot to determine the last roster spot at the upcoming All-Star Game in New York.
Toronto launched its initiative on Twitter Saturday night with the hashtag RaiseTheBar while also taking full advantage of its popular Facebook page and an in-stadium advertising campaign. The purpose was to get the word out early and often about Delabar's need for votes.
"Collectively we came up with a catchy slogan to hopefully get Blue Jays fans united and get them voting," said Rob Jack, who is the club's manager of social marketing.
"We were ready in case it happened and I think it's really important to get the vote out early. We wanted to be aggressive, be out there fast and come up with something that gets everyone rallied together."
The Blue Jays are somewhat familiar with the process after having gone through it in 2007 with Roy Halladay and again in 2009 with Adam Lind. But a lot has changed since then with potential marketing tools such as Twitter having gone mainstream.
Toronto's official account now has approximately 300,000 followers and its online fan base is known for being one of the most active in Major League Baseball. The hope is that the large group will help spread the word and give Delabar a legitimate chance against his fellow competitors: New York's David Robertson, Boston's Koji Uehara, Detroit's Joaquin Benoit and Texas' Tanner Scheppers.
Just in case the Blue Jays' following isn't enough to get the job done, Toronto decided to join forces with the Braves. The two organizations are running a joint campaign with Atlanta lending its support to Delabar while Toronto has endorsed Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman in his quest for a spot on the National League team.
AL CANDIDATES BY THE NUMBERS
The decision came in part because of some pre-existing relationships between the two clubs and the fact that Freeman's parents are both Canadian citizens.
"I think Freddie made a lot of sense because of his parents," Jack said. "We're going to play off that a little bit in the future ... This thing always works out best if you have a dancing partner and they were all over it too based on the Canadian side and the fact that Delabar is from Kentucky, so that's kind of Braves country down there.
"We talked about it quickly, it kind of made sense for both sides, they were on board, we were on board and kind of worked out well."
On Tuesday, the partnership went into full swing. When fans vote for both Delabar and Freeman on the ballot through midnight ET, they will be entered for a chance to win one of six baseballs signed by both players.
Now in its 12th year, the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Saturday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell and ends Thursday at 4 p.m. ET. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
There will be an extra treat for fans who participate in the Final Vote online. If you are not a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you are eligible to receive a 14-day free trial of MLB.TV from July 12-26. 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 email on July 12 to all Final Vote voters with instructions on how to redeem the applicable offer.
Mobile voting in the U.S. and Canada is open to everyone. In the U.S., to receive the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for Delabar, simply text message A2 to 89269. In Canada, fans should text A2 to 101010. Standard message and data rates may apply. To vote for another player via text message, use the codes below.
This entire process is an entirely new concept to Delabar, who joked that he never even took part in an "election" during his days as school. All of his teammates are now wearing "Vote Delabar" T-Shirts prior to each game and everyone is doing their best to bring out of the support in whatever way possible.
"I might have been class clown or something like that but I never really had shirts made up or did anything like that," said Delabar, who is 5-1 with a 1.58 ERA in 40 innings this season.
"The year that I've had is going pretty well so to be considered is an honor. There's a lot of guys out there that could be in consideration for the Final Vote so it's an honor just to be mentioned."
The players can promote Delabar all they want but if the hard-throwing reliever is going to have a chance at a spot on the All-Star Team it ultimately will be up to the Blue Jays' fan base.
Some might view them as being underdogs in this type of competition but that might not be entirely true. Toronto right fielder Jose Bautista has been voted into the All-Star Game for three consecutive years and just two seasons ago received more votes than anyone in Major League history.
The participation doesn't come as a shock to the club because it's something they deal with online every day.
"Even when we first started Twitter, I think fans have been on it right away," Jack said. "I think Toronto is a pretty tech savvy city so I think our fan base has been very social media inclined. Whenever we've done stuff, we've developed a big following and they seem very engaged.
"They like the idea of being involved in a new-age fan club and how fans connect with each other. We've always had a strong base and it should be no surprise that they've been all over it from pretty much day one ... They're really engaged and I think they're obviously big Blue Jays fans and want to help out."