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The Lastings Milledge All-Star Campaign

In case you somehow have found this blog without tripping across any of our site's terrific Nationals coverage here and here, AND you've also been trapped under a rock for the past month, once promising center fielder Lastings Milledge has, in fact, been demoted to AAA Syracuse. A player the team targeted as one of its great hopes for the future is now toiling away, desperately trying to re-discover his swing and confidence and, the team hopes, avoid burning any long term bridges with the organization.

Well, one group of baseball fans who seem to be most interested in flexing their own editorial weight have another goal for Milledge's minor league campaign: To get him elected to the Major League All-Star Game.

That's right, one of the most established blogs in the baseball realm has taken it upon itself to elect a minor league outfielder to the Major League All-Star Game as an open mocking of the All-Star Game's fan selection process. The blog in question -- Red Sox nation's Sons of Sam Horn, a username-required site that's been touted for its intellectual baseball discussion by Curt Schilling and a handful of other former Sox players -- started a thread calling for Lastings to land in St. Louis over the All-Star break.

The response has been overwhelming, at least in the buzz it's created. Yahoo!'s Big League Stew ran with the story as a prominent post, Chris Needham from NBC Washington has been pushing the idea as a way to shame the franchise, and even Mets fans like Matthew Cerrone have warmed to the idea.

Add it all together, and what started as a joke feels like it's getting dangerously close to critical mass (or perhaps critical Mass., if you're in a punny mood). Whether or not Red Sox Nation and its comedically influenced friends can pull off electing a joke outfielder is one question. What it would do to Major League Baseball is another.

Would Commissioner Bud Selig insist on maintaining fan voting if Lastings Milledge was actually elected to an All-Star team? Would he install some kind of a cop out ruling claiming that a player can only be elected if he spends a majority of the season's first half on a Major League roster? Will Lastings Milledge actually get the joke if he is elected? What do people think?

By Cameron Smith  |  May 11, 2009; 4:47 PM ET
Categories:  Nationals , Red Sox  
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Comments

It appears Ty "Hit Man" Taubenheim may have nipped this problem in the bud.

Posted by: Ted_Striker | May 11, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Should we really care?

Posted by: Berndaddy | May 11, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps at least the core problem - using Opening Day rosters for All-Star balloting - can be solved if this gets enough exposure and mainstream attention.

Posted by: ScottMCollins | May 11, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

The time of the condescending Sons of Sam Horn would be better spent figuring out if the Red Sox World Series trophies should be returned because of Manny's use of banned substances.

Posted by: 08Cubs | May 11, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

It's mean and spiteful is what I think.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 11, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Hey Lastings do you like fishsticks?

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | May 11, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

No.

No, no, no, no, no. This is not funny.

I am not a fan of Lastings Milledge but this is just wrong. They can make their point without humiliating him.

Getting sent down was lesson enough for the kid. And now the he's out with an injury. Does he have to be mocked by major league players on other teams too?

It's the polar opposite of class, it's unprofessional and it's poor sportsmanship.

Posted by: NatsNut | May 11, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

If Milledge and the Nats don't want to be turned into a running joke, maybe they should both play better baseball.

Love the idea of a bunch of message board posters showing a lack of professionalism, though. That's a great point.

It's a perfect representation of...NatsTown!

Posted by: orodgers | May 11, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

I am voting early and voting often for Lastings Milledge.

For those of you reading this who consider yourselves True Nats Fans I have a question: will you vote an all-Nationals ballot (as any true fan would) or will you stop short when you get to the name L. Milledge?

Think about it.

Posted by: BoteMan | May 11, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

I am so torn. The serious stuff on SoSH really blows away the analysis on all but a few fan message boards and blogs. Even though it is membership limited, it still has more active, high quality threads than anything I've seen here. They do tend to rip a bit on bad ball clubs that are badly managed, so there is a bit of picking on the Nats. For the most part, the humor on its "Natstown" thread is on the mark. Also, since some of the posters there have focused on the Nats, there are even glimmers of "hey, these guys do some things right" respect that drips through on occasions.

But the truth is the Milledge campaign is as much driven by ridicule of this franchise as it is the election process, specifically the lack of control of the on-line process. They would not have selected Milledge as the object of the campaign had he not been a AAA ballplayer for the team that started the year as clearly the worst in MLB. When you throw in his "the Sinatra of Syracuse" act ("I did it my way"), Milledge was just to easy of a target.

The 25 vote per email address each day rule turns it into a cause. The website contains tips on how to vote extra times using voting macros. Personally, I'd prefer the vote limited to day of the game ballpark attendees and bill inserts for cable subscribers of systems with the MLB Network (I'll toss in newspaper subscribers, too, to make Cameron happy).

Oh, and as for the 2004 and 2007 championships? Let's play a little game: I have a page from the Post that had pictures of players named in the Mitchell report. How many of the World Series winners had players in the report?

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | May 11, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

08Cubs wrote:

"The time of the condescending Sons of Sam Horn would be better spent figuring out if the Red Sox World Series trophies should be returned because of Manny's use of banned substances."

After careful deliberation we decided that, no, the trophies should not be returned.

And we're distressed at the condescending tone of your suggestions, vis-à-vis the usage of our time.

Posted by: rdelahanty | May 11, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse

I see this as much more of an assault on Bud Selig than on the Washington Nationals or Lastings Milledge. Fan voting is a joke and needs to be stopped.

I fully support the efforts, and I hope everyone else does as well. Let's not be so touchy.

Posted by: Tank2 | May 12, 2009 2:09 AM | Report abuse

If Lastings remains in AAA, I doubt it will work. Now that he's broken his finger, it makes it more of a joke than anything serious.

This is just another version of VOTE FOR THE WORST. This was a blog or message board of some kind which was developed by people who don't like AMERICAN IDOL. The way they figure it, if you vote for the worst person each week, then the finals will be a joke and it will be taken off the air.

This is the same thing. Its dumb and stupid and I wish people would stop giving it the attention it seeks. This group is like a child who misbehaves just to get attention.

As for an All-NATS ballot, there are many NON-Nats outfielders who deserve All-Star Recognition. I forget who's on there, but we have enough outfielders we can vote for or write in if they are not there. Josh Willingham, Austin Kearns, Adam Dunn, Elijah Dukes or Willie Harris. YOU DON'T HAVE TO VOTE FOR WHO'S PRINTED.

I'm a NATS fan as much as anyone! Do you seriously think that as many votes as we have, compared to that of the rest of the country, is going to vote for players on one of the worst teams in the league? We can try and the players above are much more deserving than Lastings. Let him heal in peace.

Posted by: CALSGR8 | May 12, 2009 3:37 AM | Report abuse

Wonder whether Milledge's race could be a factor with Boston voters as well?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 12, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

From what I've read about Milledge, if he got elected he would think, "it's about damn time".

Posted by: Avar | May 12, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

There would be precedent for Selig not to recognize Milledge being elected, in the unlikely event this campaign was successful. In 1957 the Reds' fans stuffed the ballot box (with the help of the Cincinnati Enquirer) and elected 7 Reds to the team. Commissioner Frick replaced 2 of the elected players with Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. This also led to the end of fan voting, until 1969. So I don't think Bud would need to make a "cop out ruling," it looks like he could just invoke the best interests clause.

Also, NatsNut, what players on other teams are mocking Milledge? I missed that.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | May 12, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

"Wonder whether Milledge's race could be a factor with Boston voters as well?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 12, 2009 8:08 AM "
--------------------------
No more so than many of the comments on NJ.

Because 1A1 is an avid reader, I'll toss in a few recommendations on race and the Red Sox fans. There is a new book on race and baseball fans in Boston placing the '78 season and game in context. Reviewed on hardball times - "'78- The Boston Red Sox, A Historic Game, and a Divided City." Having grown up around there then, I'm less certain '78 was as significant as 1975, which was closer to the height of the protests over school integration. Lukas's book, "Common Ground," has a great discussion of how the Red Sox success broke up boycotts of liberal institutions like the Globe because the protesters wanted to read their sports page. Finally, Howard Bryant wrote the definitive analysis of race and the Red Sox organziation a few years ago.

The difference in the attitude of the fan base from the time of Rice to Mo Vaughn was quite visible. Vaughn was the most popular player on the team for the whole time he was there (overlapping only 2 years with Nomar). I have heard more racist fans at OPACY and in sports bars in DC than I have Fenway in the past dozen years (one drunk O's fan being "clever" in his reference to young African American players on the O's), splitting my time equally between the two cities. Maybe that's just my ears and friends. Bottom line, SoSH and Red Sox fans are no more racist or otherwise overtly prejudiced than sports fans everywhere.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | May 12, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

"Will Lastings actually get the joke if he is elected?"

That's hilarious.

I vote yes to this concept.

Posted by: nattaboy | May 12, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Race as a factor. Huh?

The only factor we care about is performance. Welcome to Natstown where we value people with different abilities.

Posted by: Traut | May 12, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

If the fans will Milledge, give them Milledge. People get so bent out of shape about the All Star game.

It's an exhibition game that the league has taken too far. It's not supposed to have significance, it's just supposed to be the fans getting a chance to see the players they want to see play baseball.

Unfortunately the geniuses in MLB decided to make home field advantage in the World Series be at stake (which is incredibly dumb) as well as require that each team get a representative (also stupid, if nobody wants to see a Pirate who are we to disagree?) and ruin the very foundation of the EXHIBITION GAME. A game for the fans, picked by the fans.

Posted by: adampschroeder | May 12, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

"Wonder whether Milledge's race could be a factor with Boston voters as well?"

I wonder if part of the effort to vote Milledge into the All-Star Game is to highlight the racism of the Nationals' front office in sending him to AAA?

I wonder if Nats fans are angry that fans from other teams call their organization on its mistreatment of African-American players?

I wonder if natsfan1a1 has Klan robes in his closet?

Speculation is fun!

Posted by: orodgers | May 12, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the informative post, jca, as always. I won't dignify the above post with a response.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 12, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

CiL, I think maybe I misread this phrase,

"a username-required site that's been touted for its intellectual baseball discussion by Curt Schilling and a handful of other former Sox players -- started a thread calling for Lastings to land in St. Louis over the All-Star break."

thinking the *discussion* was by Curt Schilling and other Sox players, rather than the *touting*

Still. Making fun of the franchise is one thing. It stings, but it's an organization. Milledge is a human being who is probably already down enough both psychologically and now physically. And now to be ridiculed like this?

uh-uh. I'm not buying it and I think Needham should be ashamed.

Posted by: NatsNut | May 12, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

I know that I'd hate to be ridiculed by being elected to the All Star Game. A terrible dishonor.

Posted by: BoteMan | May 14, 2009 12:20 AM | Report abuse

To those protesting because of ridicule: Does the voting process not deserve ridicule (I'm not necessarily against fan voting, but 25 times per person and no reasonable restrictions on the creation of fake email addresses allowing some people to vote multiple times is ridiculous. Also, creating the all-star ballots at around opening day -- ridiculous). Isn't the Nats organization deserving of ridicule, particularly under the Bowden regime (how could Kastens have thought that was a good hire?) Is the exhibition All-Star game so sacred that it should be immune from being sullied by such a campaign?

(I do agree that Milledge the person shouldn't feel like the subject of ridicule -- he's just the vessel to express ... NATSTOWN!)

He got 50 votes from me (my address & my wife's)!

Go Natstown!

Posted by: OvysMissingTooth | May 14, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

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