All-Star Wannabe Wages Viral Campaign

A big-league hurler has tapped into the power of the Internet in hopes that a viral campaign might land him the 32nd and final American League spot in next week's Midsummer Classic.

Minnesota Twins submarine righty Pat Neshek is using his On the Road blog to implore baseball fans around the globe to stuff Major League Baseball's voting box with ballots bearing his name.

He's one of five American League pitchers whom fans can back for the final roster spot, which since 2002 has been decided by popular online vote.

Neshek launched the "Pitch In for Pat" effort Monday, the day after the All-Star Game's starting lineups were announced, with a posting titled "I Need Everyone's Help," in which he makes both his democratic plea and a promise.

"If you guys can get me in I will write about everything that goes on," he wrote. "Multiple updates each day letting everyone know what the heck goes on behind closed doors."

He included a hot link to baseball's voting site and asked supporters to not be shy about rabid repeat voting.

Neshek, a reliever with a 3-0 record and a 1.37 ERA, is currently running third among the AL's five choices. He faces huge competition from Red Sox Nation and Japanese baseball fans, which have propelled Hideki Okajima, the team's Japanese setup man, to first in the balloting.

Both may prove formidable roadblocks to Neshek's grass-roots bid. Japanese fans are largely credited with getting New York Yankees left fielder Hideki Matsui the fan's choice spot in 2004.

Red Sox Nation, meanwhile, responded to put former Sox center fielder Johnny Damon and catcher Jason Varitek on the all-star rosters in 2002 and 2003, respectively.

But Neshek, according to his updated blog postings, likes his position running third as the Thursday 6 p.m. voting deadline approaches.

On Tuesday, his teammates and coaches sported "Pitch In for Pat" T-shirts during warm-ups for the team's 8-0 loss at Yankees Stadium as Neshek further made his case, describing himself in a blog entry as a fan of the game who wakes up each day grateful for the opportunity to toe a major-league rubber.

"I'm calling on all MySpacers, all Facebook Users," he wrote, "and even the most skilled of YouTube directors to help me out, the funnier the better!"

The appeal quickly paid off.

Neshek posted a pair of YouTube fan clips today that help make his case. One features an acoustic parody of The Proclaimers' "500 Miles" with the lyrics altered to "I will vote 500 times and I will vote 500 more." The other shows a teenage superfan sitting in his bed with his laptop voting continuously without bathroom breaks — even as his mother asks him to help take out the trash.

Neshek also took on a reporter for the Boston Herald, who the pitcher says misquoted him in characterizing his own fan base in an article about the Neshek-Okajima showdown.

"The worst was one Boston writer saying that I called me (sic) fans 'creepy' when in reality, I said my fans are 'crazy,'" Neshek said. "Hmm does creepy sound like crazy? Can you use creepy in a good way like you can with crazy — don't think so? I suspect a sabotage campaign going on!"

Neshek made another Independence Day play, uniting with National League candidate Chris Young of the San Diego Padres in a joint 32nd-man ticket.

The decision was made, Neshek said, after he received input from his former teammate Kevin Cameron, who now pitches in San Diego alongside Young.

The big difference? With more than 24 hours to go, Young is in the lead among the five National League 32nd-man candidates, while Neshek, despite his best efforts, still has ground to make up.

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