Can't nothing keep Manny from the All-Star Game!
Turns out you can't keep a good, fun-loving, dreadlocked, prima donna baseball player down for long (well, maybe if his estrogen is particularly low you could...). Currently serving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance, the Los Angeles Dodgers' Manny Ramirez finds himself a few votes short of making the Major League's All-Star Game in July. He returns from his ban July 3 and the game is July 14, and there aren't any rules prohibiting him from playing should he get enough fan votes to make it as a starter.
Not surprisingly, this has the dignitaries in the sports blahblahblah-o-sphere very indignant. And of course that's produced a similarly predictable host of nose thumbers who've started an Internet campaign to get Manny elected just for the eff of it (get your contrariness on here). But this isn't the first time voting irregularities have clouded an All-Star game, as you'll see with our History of All-Star Selection Shenanigans...
1957: Cincinnati Fans Stuff Ballots, Elect 7 Reds Starters
• In the days before online voting, Cincinnati fans conspired to get seven Reds on the '57 National League All-Star team (though contrary to popular legend, this was not the cause of Joseph McCarthy's death that spring). NL Commissioner Ford Frick evidently believed a couple guys named Willie Mays and Hank Aaron were more deserving of two of the spots, and he bumped Gus Bell and Wally Post from the starting lineup.
1999: Nomar and the Indians Shut Out Jeter
• With the Boston and Cleveland franchises making late pushes in the early days of online voting, Nomar Garciaparra beat out Derek Jeter for the starting nod at shortstop on the '99 American League All-Star squad (four members of the Indians would be elected, completely shutting out Jeter's Yankees). Of course that year the Yanks were in the midst of a three-year title run, plus they'd get their own measure of All-Star revenge two years later (see below).
2003: Yao Ming Elected to Start His Rookie Year
• Yao was the NBA's Rookie of the Month in December and February of his freshman season and garnered the fourth most votes for the All-Star game, most via online balloting in his native China. The only problem? His back-up was a guy named Shaquille O'Neal who was the reigning Finals MVP and in the midst of a season in which he'd average 27 points and 11 rebounds.
2006-2007: "Vote for Rory"
• Prior to the 2007 NHL All-Star Game, a fan in Upstate New York decided to start a campaign to get the Vancouver Canucks' journeyman Rory Fitzpatrick (he of the nine career goals scored) elected. Fitzpatrick's name wasn't even on the official ballot, but after viral YouTube ads, not to mention a voting web bot, he was running in second place in voting for Western Conference defensemen—until huge chunks of expected votes for Rory disappeared. Many puckheads suspected a conspiracy.
2009: Canadiens Fans "Hab" a Ballot-Stuff Party
• With the help of web bots, Montreal fans attempted to elect six of their own to the All-Star Game in their hometown. They ultimately only got four of the six starters in, but the controversy again forced the NHL to reexamine their online voting protocols. Suggestion for League brass: Please type the letters that you see: "Hire an IT dude, stat!"
BONUS, NON-VOTING RELATED SHENANIGAN:
2001: Joe Torre Selects Seven Yankees
• For the '01 MLB All-Star Game in Seattle, New York Yankee manager Joe Torre decided to take along some traveling companions for the long trip to the West Coast—namely, seven of his own players. As the American League manager, Torre was allowed to pick his squad's reserves after fans had voted on the starters. Since no Yanks made the starting lineup, Joe chose a septuplet of Pinstripers, including such immortals as Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and...Mike Stanton.