Cody Wood 8, is one of several fans who sat in front of computers in Suite 229… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)
With the Dodgers in last place and their stadium half empty on most nights, their season is starting to border on pointlessness.
But Tuesday night, several fans sat in front of computers in Suite 229 at Dodger Stadium with a heightened sense of purpose: to vote Andre Ethier into the All-Star game.
Ethier is one of five National League players who are part of Major League Baseball's Final Vote, in which fans cast ballots at mlb.com to determine who gets the last spot on the All-Star roster.
The Dodgers used Twitter to recruit voters, offering the first eight fans to respond a chance to spend the game Tuesday in a suite clicking away on Ethier's behalf. Each fan was permitted to take a guest.
Standing in the back of the suite, team spokesman Josh Rawitch recalled how he and his brother spent the summer days of their youth at Dodger Stadium punching paper ballots.
"This is the 21st century version of that," he said.
One of the voters, Elia Carrillo of East Los Angeles, said she wanted Ethier to play an All-Star game in his hometown of Phoenix.
"We need to send him home," Carrillo said.
Carrillo's 16-year-old niece, Melissa Carrillo, said she was unaware that paper ballots were ever used.
"Really?" she asked her aunt.
Others in the suite used a shortcut. Andrew Chane and his son, Matthew, used their iPhones to cast votes. By casting ballots via text message — fans can vote for Ethier by texting N1 to 89269 — they could bypass mlb.com's time-consuming security mechanism.
"We probably voted at least 200-300 times already," Andrew Chane said around the time of first pitch.
Rawitch spoke of the Dodgers' increased online presence, pointing to how they are increasingly relying on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to spread word of their ticket promotions.
(In their latest offer, the Dodgers are selling $5 reserve-level seats for Ethier's bobblehead night Thursday.)
The Dodgers reached out to actress Alyssa Milano, one of their season-ticket holders, asking her to post a message on her Twitter account in support of Ethier. Milano has more than 1.7 million followers. Her message was copied by Major League Baseball's official account, which has 1.3 million followers.
The team also teamed with the Chicago White Sox in a cross-promotional effort to get their players selected. The White Sox, with whom the Dodgers share a spring-training facility in Arizona, have Paul Konerko on the American League Final Vote ballot.
Like Ethier, Konerko grew up in Arizona.
Ethier filmed a short video segment telling fans to vote for Konerko and Konerko did the same for him. The videos were posted on their teams' official websites and shown in their home parks.
The Dodgers and White Sox aren't alone. The Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies, for example, launched a Victor/Victorino campaign on behalf of Tigers catcher Victor Martinez and Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino.
Victorino is the leader for the NL Final Vote, which concludes at 1 p.m. on Thursday.
Victorino received the backing of Shaquille O'Neal, who has four-million-plus Twitter followers.
In a suite near the voters, Roberto Baly was complaining about O'Neal's endorsement.
But asked if he would rather be supported by O'Neal or Milano, Baly smiled and replied, "Alyssa."
Baly was one of 16 bloggers the Dodgers were hosting as part of an online-outreach initiative.
While in the suite, the bloggers received a call from Ethier, who asked for their support.
Most of the bloggers said they were indifferent about All-Star balloting, but Baly wasn't one of them. Baly, who runs the site vinscullyismyhomeboy.com, said he has spent 10 hours in recent days casting some 2,000 votes for Ethier.
Ethier said he was grateful for the support.
"It's a great chance for our fans to show they still support this team with all the distractions, on and off the field," said Ethier, who sat out the game because of a fever. "It's not just off-the-field ones. The way we've been playing too hasn't made people run to buy tickets to watch us play. "After not showing up to the ballpark, hopefully, they can sit at home and punch up all night."