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 'Bran-Torino' takes a ride to All-Star Game

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PostSubject: 'Bran-Torino' takes a ride to All-Star Game   Thu Jul 09, 2009 7:03 pm

'Bran-Torino' takes a ride to All-Star Game
Inge, Victorino win epic contest in Sprint Final Vote

By Mark Newman / MLB.com

07/09/09 5:15 PM ET

Bran-Torino" is now a joy ride.

Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge and Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino are your choices in the dramatic 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote, comeback survivors of the wildest overall balloting in the history of a four-day event that decided the 33rd and final roster spots for the 80th All-Star Game on July 14 at Busch Stadium.

Fans smashed Final Vote records by casting 68.6 million votes at MLB.com and ultimately they decided on the two first-time All-Stars whose respective clubs forged a voting alliance after seeing Inge and Victorino in second place on the second day. The Tigers and Phillies called it "Bran-Torino" and that catchphrase would become a campaign sensation.

Inge is an American League All-Star for the first time after receiving 11.8 million votes, the most by an AL winner, and holding off Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler in a battle that was seesaw for the first 48 hours and then close for the final 48. They were followed in order by Angels third baseman Chone Figgins, Rays first baseman Carlos Pena and Blue Jays designated hitter Adam Lind, all of whom drew impressive fan support but not enough.

Victorino now can add a Midsummer Classic to an eight-month party that also includes a World Series championship. He racked up a Final Vote record of 15.6 million votes and managed to overcome and then outlast a powerhouse campaign for Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, the "Kung Fu Panda" from Venezuela who all baseball fans now know if they didn't already. D-backs third baseman Mark Reynolds, who had that home state endorsement from 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain, finished a strong third. They were followed by Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp and Nationals shortstop Cristian Guzman.

This year's record number of votes represents an increase of 43.5 percent from the previous mark of 47.8 million set in 2008. Since its inception in 2002, the All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote has now recorded nearly 200 million votes.

It was the first time in Final Vote history that two players won after trailing in each of the first two voting updates. The alliance unquestionably mattered, as fans in Detroit voted heavily for Victorino and fans in Philadelphia did the same for Inge.

This was the year of numerous lead changes and unprecedented suspense, and also the year that Twitter entered the equation as a natural companion. Campaigning reached new levels with that real-time element, as people from McCain to Sandoval's teammate Barry Zito to clubs and local TV stations got involved with tweets. People posted twitpics of images such as Victorino's teammate Chan Ho Park wearing a Vote Victorino sandwich board and Uncle Sam saying "Vote for Pablo" and links to videos and blogs.

This was the year that Kinsler always seemed to be a shoe-in and then was left on the outside looking in. Kinsler was a fixture atop the weekly voting updates at AL second base, but he was overtaken at the end by Boston's Dustin Pedroia and then left off the roster by AL manager Joe Maddon of the Rays. Kinsler was the announced leader in each of the first two Final Vote updates, but he was passed by Inge on Day 3 and finished runnerup.

Mainly, it was the year of Bran-Torino.

It's a sweet ride.


The two clubs encouraged businesses in Michigan and Pennsylvania to allow their workers some time Wednesday and Thursday to vote for Inge and Victorino.

Victorino had mentioned a potential pairing to reporters Tuesday.

"The Giants and Texas did it," Victorino said. "We [were] both in second place. Why don't we join forces and join together?"


Inge said he has talked with Victorino a couple times during his career, but never really got to know him.

"I've spoken to him a couple of times," Inge said. "That's funny, though. What did they call it, Bran-Torino? That's funny."

Inge and Victorino have another thing in common: They are both key cogs for teams that have been in first place for quite a while now.

Inge entered Thursday batting .264 with 19 homers and 54 RBIs, and he is known mostly for his brilliant defense at the hot corner. He hit a big homer on Sunday, right after being announced as one of five nominees in the AL.

"The best part about it is, if it ends well and he makes it, no matter how it got there, he deserves it," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said before the Final Vote ended. "That's the main thing. It's like an umpire getting it right."

Victorino, the Flyin' Hawaiian, also had the backing of governors in his homeland of Hawaii and his home playing state of Pennsylvania. They had bet a friendly wager over which state could cast the most votes for him. So many people campaigned for Victorino, it almost seemed like a heavy political campaign. In the end, though, his own campaigning on the field may have mattered the most. He had four hits in the 22-1 wipeout of Cincinnati on Monday and then may have sealed the deal with a walk-off single Wednesday night.

Victorino is hitting .306 with 22 doubles, six triples, six home runs, 39 RBIs and 13 stolen bases. Now he is the second Phillies winner in Final Vote history, joining Bobby Abreu, who won it in 2004.

Previous winners of the All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote are: Evan Longoria (AL, 2008); Corey Hart (NL, 2008); Hideki Okajima (AL, 2007); Chris Young (NL, 2007); A.J. Pierzynski (AL, 2006); Nomar Garciaparra (NL, 2006); Scott 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).

The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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PostSubject: Re: 'Bran-Torino' takes a ride to All-Star Game   Thu Jul 09, 2009 7:13 pm

Inge triumphs to snag Final Vote spot
Fans send Tigers third baseman to 2009 All-Star Game

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

07/09/09 5:15 PM ET

DETROIT -- Brandon Inge will be meeting his Tiger All-Star teammates in St. Louis after all. Detroit's third baseman won a close All-Star Final Vote over Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler to capture the final spot on the American League roster for next Tuesday's Midsummer Classic.

It will be the first time on an All-Star roster for Inge, and another chapter in his Detroit comeback story. The man who began last season as a utility player on the trading block and was briefly the Tigers' successor to Ivan Rodriguez at catcher has become one of the best third basemen in the league, and will join Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria and Texas' Michael Young as All-Stars at the hot corner this year.

The lead that Inge and his fans built Tuesday and into Wednesday held up Thursday afternoon thanks to the support of a Tigers fan base and a massive get-out-the-vote effort from the club. The Tigers used their just-completed three-game series against the Royals at Comerica Park to get out the message, then partnered with the Phillies to encourage fans to vote Inge and Shane Victorino on the same ballot.

The city responded. Manager Jim Leyland noted one fan Tuesday who held up a sign saying she had voted 500 times for Inge. Others reportedly doubled that and then some.

"I think that it's given the city something happy going on or something a little bit different for a few days," Leyland said Wednesday. "I think it's good for the city. I think it's good for the area. I think they're into it, and I think they're laughing. They're forgetting about their problems, maybe, for a little bit. I think that's the best part about it, myself.

"They love him. So do I. But I think it's good for the city."

The response was admittedly well more than Inge expected. At one point, he worried that it was becoming a distraction for the team.

"These last few days have been kind of a whirlwind, because of everything," Inge said Wednesday. "It's just that you kind of want it [decided] one way or the other. ... I had no idea it was like this. I just figured they would tell me at the end what happened."

Inge's addition gives the Tigers four All-Stars, joining players ballot selections Curtis Granderson, Edwin Jackson and Justin Verlander. Only the Red Sox have more members on the AL roster, with six.

But no Tiger has a story quite like his. Inge, the longest-tenured current Tiger, returned to third base full-time at the end of last season and credits an offseason adjustment to his hitting position with helping jump-start his offensive game. In a lineup that boasts established hitters such as Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez, the 32-year-old Inge leads the team with 19 home runs and 54 RBIs to go with a .264 batting average and .860 OPS.

Inge had been planning to spend the All-Star break with his family on the western side of the state along Lake Michigan. He'll now be quickly changing those plans and bringing his wife and two kids to St. Louis.

He also indicated as far back as last weekend that he'd be interested in taking part in the All-Star Home Run Derby if he made the team.

"Heck, yeah," Inge said. "I don't care if I hit none. It would be fun to just try."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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PostSubject: Re: 'Bran-Torino' takes a ride to All-Star Game   Thu Jul 09, 2009 8:07 pm

Whoooo Brandon!

Glad he changed his hitting stance! Woo hoo!
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PostSubject: Re: 'Bran-Torino' takes a ride to All-Star Game   Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:21 pm

I don't care for the concept of people voting as many times as they want online.


I like ballot voting better.
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PostSubject: Re: 'Bran-Torino' takes a ride to All-Star Game   Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:24 pm

Imagine how many votes players like Hank Aaron or Al Kaline would have had online if the internet existed when they played
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PostSubject: Re: 'Bran-Torino' takes a ride to All-Star Game   Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:26 pm

And I don't care vote for that voting alliance stuff either; Not fair to the other players that weren't a part of it


I voted for Inge once

That is how many times I voted online
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PostSubject: Re: 'Bran-Torino' takes a ride to All-Star Game   Fri Jul 10, 2009 4:26 am

That alliance stuff sucks!

Say no to Victorino! He was at best the 4th most deserving NLer rant


I'm glad Inge got in though as you could argue that he was the most deserving ALer. He's also a Tiger so that's good enough for me.


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PostSubject: Re: 'Bran-Torino' takes a ride to All-Star Game   Fri Jul 10, 2009 3:11 pm

catbox_9 wrote:
That alliance stuff sucks!

Say no to Victorino! He was at best the 4th most deserving NLer rant


I'm glad Inge got in though as you could argue that he was the most deserving ALer. He's also a Tiger so that's good enough for me.


I agree with you 100 percent on Victorino



It wouldn't be a problem if the All Star Game was just an exhibition game; but when home field advantage in the WS goes to the league that wins the game; it becomes an issue
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PostSubject: Re: 'Bran-Torino' takes a ride to All-Star Game   Sat Jul 11, 2009 2:27 pm

Having home field advantage in the WS being decided by the AS game is an issue, too - just say no to that rule!


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PostSubject: Re: 'Bran-Torino' takes a ride to All-Star Game   Sat Jul 11, 2009 2:43 pm

catbox_9 wrote:
Having home field advantage in the WS being decided by the AS game is an issue, too - just say no to that rule!


Along with having the DH in the American League

Let pitchers hit
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PostSubject: Re: 'Bran-Torino' takes a ride to All-Star Game   Sat Jul 11, 2009 3:55 pm

gs78 wrote:
catbox_9 wrote:
Having home field advantage in the WS being decided by the AS game is an issue, too - just say no to that rule!


Along with having the DH in the American League

Let pitchers hit

That, too!

high 5


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