For the past couple of years Major League Baseball has run a little American Idol-style contest to give players who didn’t make the All-Star team a chance to make it. It’s called The Final Vote, and it gives fans a few days to vote online and through social media for one of five finalists. It’s a program that encourages campaigns and hashtags and all kinds of nonsense which, for the most part is kind of fun, even if it clogs up our Twitter feeds for a couple of days.
But now the Final Vote is over and the results are in:
The creative campaigns are over. Twitter voting ended in a furious rally. And at the end of the four-day online voting program, it is Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox and Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs who were chosen by fans as the winners of the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Sale and Rizzo earned the final two AL and NL All-Star Team roster spots through online voting on MLB.com, the individual Club sites and Twitter, where designated player hashtags counted during the final six hours of voting.
Rizzo beat out Justin Morneau, even though Morneau had the entire nation of Canada behind him. Of course, in a battle between Canadian democracy and Chicago politics, take Chicago every time.
That may explain Chris Sale’s win too. I mean, set aside the fact that he totally deserves to be on the All-Star team. Clearly his victory over Garrett Richards was a function of The Chicago Way. Richards belongs too, of course. I would assume that an “injury” to a current All-Star will get him there. It always seems to happen that way.
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.