The people have spoken. Blue Jays reliever Steve Delabar is an All-Star.
Congrats Steve! And a special thanks to all of our fans who voted all week long and showed that @BlueJays fans are the best in baseball!
— Blue Jays-Official (@BlueJays) July 11, 2013
Social media and the support of baseball fans across Canada fueled Delabar's impromptu trip to New York City next week to represent the American League at the 2013 All-Star Game.
Delabar beat out four other relief pitchers, the Yankees' David Robertson, the Red Sox's Koji Uehara, the Tigers' Joaquin Benoit, and the Rangers' Tanner Scheppers in MLB's Final Vote, an online poll that allowed fans to select which player will fill the 32nd roster spot for the A.L. and the N.L.
Delabar embraced the interactivity and showed genuine appreciation at even being considered for the honour.
Here he was, on the precipice of baseball's biggest regular season stage less than three years after working as substitute teacher because a broken arm all but extinguished his big-league dreams. It's a story eerily reminiscent of the based-on-a-true story movie "The Rookie".
WOW!!! @BlueJays fans, you're amazing!! Thank you so much!! WOW!!
— Steve Delabar (@SteveDelabar_50) July 11, 2013
Acquired midway through last season from Seattle, Delabar has been a vital member of Toronto's lights-out bullpen alongside fellow All-Star Brett Cecil and closer Casey Janssen. In 37 appearances (41 1/3 innings), he has a 1.74 ERA and has recorded 57 strikeouts. The Blue Jays campaigned hard for Delabar's inclusion in the Midsummer Classic, encouraging fans to vote for the hard-throwing right-hander online and by using the #RaiseTheBar hashtag on Twitter. The fan base delivered and included a couple of high-profile constituents.
— Milos Raonic (@milosraonic) July 11, 2013
The big surprise came in the N.L. as Braves first baseman Freedie Freeman was voted in ahead of Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig.
In fact, the Blue Jays and Braves teamed up to promote the candidacies of their Final Vote representatives. The legion of Blue Jays fans voting for Delabar may not even have been aware that Freeman has Canadian ties of his own even though the alliance may have been more beneficial for Delabar.
The Jays' season hasn't been the glowing success that was expected following an off-season of grand maneuvering but Delabar's election gives Toronto four players in this year's All-Star Game. Delabar joins Edwin Encarnacion and Cecil, also first-time All-Stars, and Jose Bautista, who is making his fourth All-Star appearance in a row and third consecutive as a starter.