Balloting for the 88th All-Star Game presented by MasterCard will begin in a little over two months, dominating the conversation, so here's a little Major League Baseball voting workout right now as a way to lead us into Tuesday's start of Spring Training.
Please visit this voting page presented by Boston College's Center for Corporate Citizenship. Click on the picture of Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo -- the last player to officially hold a game ball -- and take a moment to cast your vote for "MLB in our Community." Watch the accompanying video that features all 30 teams, showing the expanding ways that Major League Baseball positively impacts the lives of millions of people around the world through its social responsibility efforts.
"There is a powerful common bond among those of us at Major League Baseball and with our 30 clubs," Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "Collectively, we feel that it is a privilege for our national pastime to contribute to the communities where the game is played and the causes that impact all of us. We are grateful for the extraordinary opportunities to make a difference in the lives of our fans."
For MLB, it is much more than a game of three outs and a minimum of nine innings multiplied by 162 plus a postseason. It is about the soaring Play Ball initiative for youth -- supported by hundreds of U.S. mayors -- and the Baseball Tomorrow Fund to give those kids a place to play baseball and softball. It is about Jackie Robinson breaking barriers and the lesson he taught us: "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."
It is about legacy, service, community, opportunity and awareness.
Voting continues through Thursday, determining nine finalists in three company size categories as well as the Fan Favorite winner, so be sure to cast one entry per email address and use the share icons to spread the word to all fans. On March 26, winners will be honored as part of a formal ceremony at the 2017 International Corporate Citizenship Conference at The Westin Copley Place in Boston. Then about a month later, voting begins for All-Star starters, and everything will be right in the world again.
"Baseball is committed to making a difference year-round," said Tom Brasuell, MLB's vice president for community affairs. "Commissioner Manfred, our clubs, current and former players and our fans are fully invested in improving the lives of children and families through our great game."
"When you put on a uniform, you hope to wear it as long as you can, but it becomes a platform for you to elevate and bring to light so many other things that are in life and are far more important than playing the game of baseball," said Hall of Famer John Smoltz, the MLB Network/FOX analyst. "So many guys have been able to utilize that as a platform and utilize their stance and notoriety to bring attention to their causes. We focus a lot on the negative things in life, in general, and there is a great opportunity for taking note of the guys who have been ambassadors of our game both on and off the field."
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.