We’re a week away from the MLB All-Star Game, and that can only mean one thing – it’s time for the Final Vote campaign, where fans can vote for one of five players from each league to be added to the All-Star roster. It’s a tremendously successful promotion that MLB has been using for over a decade, but one that has been turned on its head over the last couple of years. Why? Because MLB has opened up the floodgates by allowing Twitter users to vote for players using hashtags.
And of course, because people just remember the phrase “use the hashtag to vote”, they don’t read the fine print. They don’t realize that the hashtag voting isn’t open for the entire four days of the Final Vote campaign. Fans simply keep pecking away with their hashtags, oblivious to the fact that all of their #VoteJUp and #VoteRendon and #TargetSale tweets won’t mean a damn thing until 10 AM eastern on Thursday, when the Twitter voting kicks off for six excruciating hours. Oh, and each tweet only counts as one vote, so copy and pasting the hashtag ten times into one tweet doesn’t make any lick of difference (not that it matters one bit).
Sure, if you use any sort of reasonable Twitter client, you can simply mute all of the hashtags and not have to worry about any of this nonsense. However, that becomes a problem when every damn tweet in your timeline has the hashtag attached and you’re left with a wasteland, especially if you’re a fan of one of the teams that has a player in the Final Vote balloting.
We actually saw a similarly painful bout of hashtag voting a couple of months ago with the NHL15 mess and hashtag spamming. MLB doesn’t have an out in the Final Vote like EA put into the fine print of their cover vote, and the inclusion of text message voting (which really, knock yourself out if you have an unlimited texting plan) and actual online ballots makes the results a little harder to fudge. But at the end of the day, hashtag voting accomplishes two things – it annoys the hell out of people who couldn’t care less about the voting, and it turns otherwise normal people into unbearable hashtagging machines.
It’s funny too, because what’s the real gain from it? A video game cover, when you could just print out a custom cover online and slip it into the case? One plate appearance or inning pitched in what should be (but isn’t, thanks to Bud Selig’s endless meddling) a meaningless exhibition game? Maybe I’ve just become jaded as a sports fan, but voting with hashtags just seems like an incredible, unbearable waste of time to me.