Tribe Fans Should Stuff the Ballot Boxes for Santana and Reynolds

“If I ain’t starting, then I ain’t departing.”

Those were the frustrated words spoken just before the All-Star break in 1999 by former Texas Ranger Juan Gonzalez.

Gonzalez was miffed because he had finished fifth in the All-Star voting for American League outfielders, behind Ken Griffey, Jr. of Seattle and Manny Ramirez, Kenny Lofton and David Justice of Cleveland.  He was mad and accused the Indians and their fans of “stuffing” the ballot boxes at Jacobs Field.

Not making many friends, Gonzalez also took a little shot at his own fans as well.

“I respect the fans,” Gonzalez said “But if they don’t vote for me, I don’t want to play.”  True to his word, Gonzalez sat out the 1999 Mid-Summer Classic.

Juan Gone’s gripe was justified as the slugging right fielder had posted a .316 average with 23 homeruns and 77 RBI when the voting had closed.  Those numbers compared well to those of both Griffey and Ramirez, but were far better than those put up by Lofton and Justice.

Tribe fans need to turn back time and stuff the ballot boxes again, as two deserving starters currently reside in the Indians lineup.

Both Carlos Santana and Mark Reynolds, at least at this point, have made very strong cases to be the starters at both catcher and designated hitter for the AL squad.  Justin Masterson has also put up an All-Star April and May, but fans do not get to vote for pitchers.

The two sluggers will need the votes of every Cleveland fan in order to have a chance to start, but the recent past has not shown much Cleveland “ballot-box stuffing” like it did during the Indians 455 straight sellouts in the late 90’s.  Ironically, the last Indian to be voted into an All-Star game was Gonzalez himself during his one year Cleveland stint in 2001.  Both Cliff Lee (2008) and Asdrubal Cabrera (2011) have started the game since then, but neither was elected to start.

Tribe fans have their work cut out for them if they’d like to break the 12 year drought, however.  The biggest competition for the two will come from two All-Star veterans who have been voted in numerous times before.

At catcher, Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins poses the biggest threat to Santana, as Mauer is healthy, productive again and certainly has the recognition of the national fans.  Mauer is a five time All-Star and was voted in to start every year from 2008-2010.  While Santana’s numbers have come back to Earth in recent weeks after his ridiculous start, it should be—but probably won’t be nationally—noted that Santana is a key contributor on a contending team, while Mauer’s Twins plummet into mediocrity and beyond.

In a battle of cool nicknames, Hurricane Reynolds will likely face off against David Ortiz for the DH spot.  Big Papi is an eight time All-Star and has been voted in as a starter six times including the last two seasons.  Ortiz is putting up big numbers once again, but was hurt for much of the first month with inflammation in both of his heels.  No Tribe fan needs to look at numbers to understand what Reynolds has meant to the Indians this season and no baseball fan needs to see another Red Sox player on the field, so voting him in should be a top priority.

To send the Tribe’s two deserving stars to play at the Mets Citi Field in July, fans need to get online and vote.  Fans can vote on the Internet 25 times and can add an additional 10 times to their total if they login to an MLB.com account.  The subscription is free.  If additional votes are desired, the old fashioned punch ballots are available at Progressive Field, and the supply is unlimited at the ballpark.

Just ask Juan Gonzalez.

Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images

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