Harper getting Final Vote support throughout DC area
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HINGTON -- Nationals All-Star Ian Desmond was asked Tuesday, with the prospect of sending a fourth Washington player to the All-Star Game, how many times he's voted for teammate Bryce Harper in the Final Vote balloting.
He answered in theme with the kind of attitude the Nationals are trying to generate this week, in the push to get the rookie to the Midsummer Classic on July 10 in Kansas City.
"The question is," Desmond said, "how many times did you vote for Bryce?"
There's a new kind of campaigning going on in Washington this week, as the Nationals push for their 19-year-old phenom to be just the third teenager selected to an All-Star Game.
Harper, who went 2-for-5 with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored Tuesday night, is now one of four National League candidates in the annual Final Vote contest. He trails only St. Louis' David Freese in the latest balloting, announced Tuesday. Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones was on the ballot, but he was named to the team late Tuesday as a replacement for injured Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp.
Atlanta's Michael Bourn and Arizona's Aaron Hill are the other NL candidates.
"I had a lot of people tell me they were voting -- family and friends and whatnot," Harper said. "If it works out, it works out. If not, things happen."
People all over the area have joined in the campaign, including the Orioles organization, which is trying to send pitcher Jason Hammel via the American League vote.
The Nationals and Orioles have partnered for the "Beltways Ballot," and fans are encouraged to use the hashtags #BryceIn12, #VoteHammel and #BeltwaysBallot on Twitter to help encourage others to get out and vote. This is the second consecutive year the teams have partnered for the Final Vote, as last year Adam Jones and Michael Morse formed the inaugural "Beltways Ballot."
To receive the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote presented by Firestone mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for Harper, simply text message N3 to 89269. Mobile voting in Canada also is available and fans should text their choices to 101010. Std rates may apply.
"We've got a 19-year-old kid in our clubhouse who's obviously made a huge impact on our team this year," Desmond said. "He came here and he's obviously been through a couple little injuries. At 19 years old, there's always that question of, 'Should I keep playing, or should I not?' He's out there every day grinding for us. He's obviously put up some great numbers, he's impacted the game, whether it's offensively or defensively. This guy deserves to go to the All-Star Game, so whatever we've gotta do to push him there, we've got to go the extra mile."
Other sports figures in the D.C. area have also taken to social media to voice their support for Harper, including some of his teammates.
Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard tweeted Tuesday, "Help send Bryce Harper to the MLB All-Star Game via the #FinalVote. Vote at MLB.com. #BryceIn12."
The Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals both encouraged their Twitter followers to support Harper, and local stars like Pierre Garcon, John Wall, Brian Orakpo, Robert Griffin III, Kemba Walker and John Walton all chimed in, as well.
Harper could join Desmond and pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez as the largest contingent of Nationals at an All-Star Game since the franchise moved to Washington in 2005.
But if he doesn't win the vote, he said he's looking forward to the alternative way of spending the All-Star break.
"I'm excited to go home," Harper said. "If I don't make the team, I think it'd be good for me to go home and get away from the world and just be Bryce and be normal. Hang out with the family, get some home-cooked meals, hit with my pop and just hang out."
The Nationals have had a player participate in the Final Vote balloting in each of the last four seasons -- Cristian Guzman in 2009, Ryan Zimmerman in '10, Morse in '11 and Harper this year. The team has never had one of its players win the contest.