Barry Bonds may have had his All-Star vote count juiced, allowing him to surpass Alfonso Soriano in the closing days of voting for the upcoming All-Star Game.
That's the word being circulated just a few days before the event.
Reportedly, the method for the juiced records came by way of an automated recursive script posted on a Giants message board.
As the All-Star Game announcement states, "Bonds overtook Alfonso Soriano (2,202,513) of the Chicago Cubs in the final phase of balloting."
Bonds, by the way, had 2,325,391 total votes.
The difference between Bonds and Soriano wound up being 122,878. Getting that many fake votes -- and more -- would be a piece of cake to simulate. As someone who does consulting as a software test engineer, I have run scripts that have generated far more records than that.
It's not something wiz-bang. It's that the system allowed for such a sophomoric act to occur.
Larry Brown, over at AOL Fanhouse posted the following, and followed up with a posting on his personal blog with screenshots of how to run the script in question (see below for the screenshot):
Shortly after the program was unveiled on the boards, it was then pointed out that you could vote on MLB.com without validating your email address. That's right -- you could use a fake address to vote. User FUG figured out a few tricks that allowed fans to vote for Bonds 25 times in 20 seconds. Once it was announced that Bonds had won the fan's vote, the Giantsboard crowd rejoiced over what they felt was their victory. Someone even called into Bay Area sports station KNBR to let them know about the trick used to get Bonds into the game. But some of the members of the message board have begun to doubt the impact they had on the vote. Dave Del Grande, he of Billy Beane/Milton Bradley infamy, thinks the trick worked.
The question isn't whether all the votes came by way of the script. They weren't. And, for all we know, others were voted in by over-eager fanatics using some method of vote fabrication.
The problem is, this is about MLB hosting a popularity contest. The All-Star Game is MLB's version of American Idol, with fans rooting on their favorite players, who may, or may not, happen to actually be All-Star worthy.
MLB created the atmosphere that allows for this kind of mess.
MLB and the Clubs are part of the hype machine as emails saying "Vote for <insert the flavor of the year player here>" flood your in-box.
Fine. Let's have it that way; just don't sell us all on the "This time it matters" nonsense. You can't have it both ways.
Not all the best players will be in the game due to MLB's need to be "Hollywood." So, Bonds should, or should not be, in the game based on merit, not computer geeks high-fiving over a Computer 101 script.
He probably should be in based on merit. MLB probably wanted him in, as well. All the hyperventilating about Bonds breaking Aaron's record aside, an All-Star Game in AT&T Park wouldn't look right without him in it. MLB -- and the Giants -- know Bonds is practically responsible for building the ballpark himself.
MLB.com, ergo MLBAM, on the other hand, should be embarrassed. This is the gold standard of sports Internet sites?
Let's hope better care is being taken on how more serious monetary transactions are taking place. After all, it's not as if the winner of the All-Star Game winds up with homefield advantage for the World Series or something... Oops.
Maury Brown is the founder and president of The Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball and The Biz of Football. He is a contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and can be contacted here.