License to Vote

We live in a great country founded on freedom and personal rights. These freedoms have been challenged and we have sent soldiers to war to protect them. Freedom is something that each of us take pride in and there is not a day that goes by that we are not exposed to freedom in one sort or another. At Chase Field it is usually the freedom of speech or freedom of expression that I’m most aware of. Fans come to the game dressed in some of the most interesting clothing. Some supports their local team allegiance while others may describe their political beliefs. There are others that you just stop and shake your head and wonder whether the person should go back to letting their mother pick their clothing. As the game starts most of the fans show great delight in expressing their views of the players, the game action, and especially the umpiring. Some of the comments are witty and funny others make you want to grab your child and cover their ears. In most cases this freedom of expression is family friendly and a great part of the game. An important aspect of maintaining these freedoms is through our right to vote.

Voting is as American as baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet. Oh wait maybe we need to remove Chevrolet from that list given the current climate. Regardless, the right to vote and cast your ballot to secure the outcome is a time honored tradition. In fact in Chicago it is such an important aspect that for years people voted even after they were dead but that’s another story. In this country we vote for everything from our favorite soft drink to the next leader of our country. There is nothing we won’t vote on if given the chance.

At this time of year Major League Baseball jumps into the fray and offers an opportunity for baseball fans to get in on the election fun. I am talking of course about All-Star voting. On-line ballots opened yesterday for the 2009 All-Star Game where fans are invited to select the most deserving players to represent their respective teams and leagues in the mid-summer classic. Note I said most deserving and not favorite. For years this has been baseball’s equivalent to a beauty contest when in fact it should be a way for the fans to reward those players who are having the best seasons. I am not naïve enough to believe that fans will change and begin to evaluate the players before they vote but I would be remiss if I didn’t put in that little reminder.

The on-line ballots are now open and shortly each Major League stadium will also have printed ballots that fans can fill out while at the game. My kids usually look forward to this time and do their part to stuff the ballot box with votes for their favorite players (I know, I know, they don’t listen to me either when I tell them to vote for the most deserving athletes). I eagerly announced to the family that voting time was nearly upon us. I expected confetti and fanfare at the news but instead I was greeted with mutterings and complaints. My 11 year old son was especially vocal in his complaints vowing not to even take part this year. Not take part in voting, how could he say such a thing?

He along with my daughter and to a lesser part my wife all jumped on the anti-voting band wagon with particular complaints lodged against the Arizona Diamondbacks. This was very unlike my family and so I was curious what had caused such a response towards baseball and especially towards the beloved Diamondbacks. Much of their dissatisfaction was focused towards the DBacks and the way they ran the voting during the 2008 season. In an effort to get more people voting they implemented a promotion where they rewarded fans for filling out ballots and turning them in at the stadium. My family eager to win prizes jumped at the chance and on the first day of voting brought home literally thousands of ballots. In the first 24 hours they filled out 1,500 ballots and turned them in at Chase Field. They continued this process and over the next several home stands they posted over 5,000 ballots. The prize they were most interested in was the offer for a free Diamondbacks license plate for the car. I of course have a DBacks plate on my car but my wife does not. It has been a source of contention in our marriage for as long as these special license plates have been available. The family decided this was the best way to eliminate the license plate problem was to fill out All-Star ballots and get a plate for mom’s car.

The ballots were turned in and the proper paperwork was filled out at Chase Field that would be used to get the plate. There was only one problem; no one accepting the ballots had any idea how to fulfill the plate request that was being advertised. We were told that details were being worked out and that we would receive a voucher for a license plate shortly. Well shortly strung along throughout the voting period without an answer. After voting ended my wife contacted the Diamondbacks to find out what to do about the license plate and was told that they were working on the fulfillment and that she would be contacted. This went on for the rest of the season with my wife checking periodically and being given the same answer. The season ended as did the off-season and Spring Training. Here we are now nearly a year later and still no word as to how we could obtain the free Diamondbacks license plate that was earned last season. This has led to some frustration and disenchantment of the whole process. So while I still plan on filling out my ballot and voting for players to represent the Diamondbacks in the All-Star game I am not expecting any help from my family on this one. I don’t even want to think about what might happen if the Diamondbacks offer free license plates for filling out ballots. That’s not a freedom of expression I want to see.

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