Why I’m not voting for David Freese to be a 2012 All-Star

The heat is on for St. Louis Cardinals fans to vote 2011 World Series MVP David Freese into the 2012 All-Star Game. The Cardinals even have a get-out-the vote campaign going with the Chicago White Sox: Cards fans rooting for Freese are urged to use their American League votes for Jake Peavy, and vice versa rather than any of the other candidates to be the fan pick for the last one added to each roster.
Fans have 98 hours from the time the nominees are announced to vote — and 25 votes each through browser ballot or by SMS text messaging. More than 50 million votes were cast last year, according to MLB. (More details below.)
Easy enough. Then I looked at the online ballot and took a virtual step back from providing my email and birth date plus zip code. It had two checked-off boxes, requiring me to opt out of getting messages from sponsor Firestone and from MLB.
Yes, I know I could lie, go with 1/1/19XX or the like. Forms like this double-dog dare you to. I could use a throwaway email address, a different zip code. On the surface, all MLB wants to know is that a person did the voting, not a script — each vote requires a captcha — and that I’m 13 or older.

But what MLB really wants in exchange for our vote or votes is access to us and our OK to share that access with others. (Granted, MLBAM already has access to me personally through subscriptions and other signups but Firestone doesn’t.) Each time someone votes, the ballot remembers the info you put in the first time — and forgets the opt out, filling in the permission boxes again. Most of the non-paranoid people I know would use their email address. I’m taking a course in statistics from Udacity but I’m not far enough along to do the odds for how likely someone filling out the ballot more than once or twice, let alone all 25 times, is to forget to unpick the boxes at least once.
MLB is looking for one more thing — video subscribers. Voters with a valid email address who don’t already get MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium will be offered a 14-day free trial. Current subs will get a 15 percent coupon for the MLB.com store.
As for texting, available to U.S. and Canadian fans, I thought about the amount of spam or “commercial” text messages I’m already getting. I thought about my colleague Jeff Roberts’ pangs after he swapped Google his mobile number for the price of a latte.

How much is too much?

I may have been more sensitive to this because of an incident Tuesday at a Starbucks community table when the nice contractor who made space for us started to pay for something over the phone with his credit card. Our eyes met and I told him it was fine if he made the transaction at the table but maybe it would be better for him if he didn’t. He went outside to finish the call, came back and thanked me for reminding him that a place where you feel secure isn’t always a secure place. It reminded me, too.
That idea carried over when I opened the browser to vote, melding with a concern that’s been growing over how much information I share and who with.
I trust the fine folks at Major League Baseball and its Advanced Media arm. The privacy policy is clearly marked and as easy to read as these things get. But it’s time to stop handing over even minimal info without thinking about it.
If you still want to vote 25 times for your favorite player, make sure the form is right each time. If you want to text a donation make sure you aren’t saying yes to more inbound texts unless you’re OK with getting them from that source and that you’re not okaying third-party access unless you want it. Make sure when you have to start over with a form that boxes you checked or unchecked stay that way; far too many default even when some of the info come back. If you want coupons sent to your phone, check the fine print or be ready to pay a different price.

How the Final Vote works

Freese and Peavy are among the 9 candidates for the “Final Vote”: a gimmick introduced in 2002 that lets fans, who already select the starters by position, pick the last player added to each league’s roster. (There were ten but Atlanta Braves vet Chipper Jones was pulled out midway to substitute for Matt Kemp on the National League team.) The winners get a ticket to Kansas City for the 83rd All-Star Game May 10th, plus cash in cases where a bonus for making the team is in their contract. (There’s an uproar right now, complete with conspiracy theories, over just that.)
The five nominees for each league are picked by the respective managers of last season’s World Series opponents, “in conjunction” with Major League Baseball using “Player” rosters compiled by players, managers and coaches from each team. Tony LaRussa, who retired as Cardinals manager at the end of the 2011 season and now works for MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, gets to manage the National League team; Rangers Manager Ron Washington has the American League. The sponsor gets naming rights for the vote; last year it was Sprint, this year it’s the “Final Vote Sponsored by Firestone.”
Voting ends Thursday at 4 p.m. ET.