For the last day of MLB's Final Vote campaign, fans could bypass the official website and vote via a Twitter hashtag. For Jake Peavy, you'd vote with #TakeJake. For Cardinals fans, it was #FreesePlease. And so on and so forth.
(Side note: Did anybody check out the @TakeJake account? It's basically the typical Twitter experience boiled down to four tweets.)
I don't know how many #TakeJake tweets went out, but I'm guessing the number is staggering. There were about a million between U-God, Colin and Fornelli alone. One official White Sox tweet was re-tweeted 1,301 times, because when it crossed 1,000 re-tweets, one person would be selected to win a giant Jake Peavy head, which sounds fun in theory.
On top of that, the White Sox produced numerous campaign videos, including Gordon Beckham's Peavy imitation, the Army Golden Knights, and David Freese in Elvis garb, among others. Teammates urged fans to vote online and in person before games, Jerry Reinsdorf took a turn as the Dos Equis guy, and even Gov. Pat Quinn threw his support behind Peavy.
Some people got tired of it. To them, the relentless campaign represented misplaced priorities or bribery. More pragmatic/cautious fans warned against putting an injury-prone pitcher in harm's way unnecessarily. I felt most sorry for the people who had no team, and just wanted their media/discussion tool back.
Wherever you stood on the get-out-the-vote effort -- if you cared at all -- it didn't achieve its primary goal of putting Peavy in the All-Star Game. He lost out to Yu Darvish, which wasn't surprising. Darvish had an entire country behind him; Peavy could only carry the South (Side).
In this case, though, the stated purpose was merely incidental in the end. Sure, had he won the Final Vote, it would have been a nice status symbol for Peavy as well as the Sox (four All-Stars is better than three). Peavy instead received the home game as a consolation prize, and hell, it might work out better for everybody involved.
Regardless, the Sox would have been foolish to not put everything behind it, because they finally have a product that is ... fun.
It sounds simple, but fun has been lacking over the past few seasons, on and off the field. The advertisements stressed how hard the Sox worked, as if watching people labor is worth money (Juan Pierre clocks in -- be there!). And yet the in-game execution didn't suggest a whole lot of emphasis on preparation. Those failures would lead the broadcaster to praise unremarkable opponents as superior products, and sometimes the manager would join him -- when he wasn't busy dismissing the potential impact of unproven players who might be able to help. The Sox inadvertently stumbled upon a system of checks and balances designed to quash excitement.
This year, the White Sox are far easier on the eyes, ears and brains. The leadership puts players in a position to win, even it requires getting new players. There are fewer lapses on defense, fewer blown opportunities on offense. When veterans hit the DL, young players step in and do what they can to help (Jose Quintana adds, "and then some"). A team formerly averse to turning to prospects now has eight rookies on the pitching staff, and nobody's particularly bothered by it.
It's just a more resilient operation, which is key to inspiring faith. And this is also important -- the Sox are giving their fans easy nights. After sweeping baseball's best team, the White Sox now have a winning record at home.
Everything is coming up Milhouse ... except at the gate. Attendance has lagged behind performance, which shouldn't surprise anybody. It's practically penance for the sins of previous seasons.
The Sox already tried combating it with the You Aren't Supporting Us Enough route, which never goes over well. So this time, they had an opportunity to tout the top-of-the-rotation pitcher of their first place team, and they milked it hard. Though the time and volume and names involved might be overwhelming, this is what it boils down to:
WE HAVE A REALLY GOOD PITCHER
WE'RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT WHY HE'S GOOD
YOU SHOULD ALSO TALK ABOUT WHY HE'S GOOD
WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO HAVE FUN TALKING ABOUT OUR GOOD PITCHER
WE ARE HAVING OUR OWN FUN TALKING ABOUT OUR GOOD PITCHER
LET US AGAIN REMIND YOU THAT WE HAVE A GOOD PITCHER
WOULD YOU LIKE TO TELL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT OUR GOOD PITCHER?
YOUR ENTHUSIASM IS NOTED, AND WE WILL ATTEMPT TO REWARD YOU
LET'S TALK ABOUT OUR GOOD PITCHER FOR A LITTLE BIT LONGER
THANK YOU FOR ALL THE DISCOURSE ABOUT OUR GOOD PITCHER
SUCKS OUR GOOD PITCHER DIDN'T MAKE IT
BUT WE SURE SPENT A LOT OF TIME TALKING ABOUT OUR GOOD PITCHER
OUR GOOD PITCHER SURE APPRECIATES IT
That's really the point of all this, and it might have a lasting effect. It's too early to make any definitive conclusions, but the Sox had some nice attendance totals on Tuesday and Wednesday (although Fourth of July games are always a draw). Thursday could have been better, but with the combination of a day game and record temperatures, it's hard to convert fans into walk-up-and-hopefully-don't-die sales. We'll have a better idea after this weekend series against Toronto.
Either way, the #TakeJake campaign might have been excessive, but it seems far more beneficial to spend a week overpromoting good players than one news cycle suggesting fans are inadequate. Especially if they keep winning all the while.