ANAHEIM -- Chone Figgins, needing to make up some ground in the Final Vote balloting on MLB.com, has come up with a timely and catchy campaign slogan in his bid for a spot on the American League All-Star team.
"Flip for Chone," Figgins said, "and I'll flip for you."
A huge Ozzie Smith fan as a kid, Figgins performed as a Minor Leaguer the kinds of back flips popularized by the Wizard of Oz in his Cardinals heyday. With the Midsummer Classic being staged on Smith's turf in St. Louis, Figgins would love to reenact the Wizard's signature move on his way out to a position -- any position. "My greatest All-Star moment was Ozzie was doing the back flip," Figgins said on Monday, having heard that he's trailing Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler and Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge in the early voting, with Blue Jays DH Adam Lind and Rays first baseman Carlos Pena completing the field. "If it wouldn't bother either team, I would do it, yes," Figgins said, asked about emulating Smith's flip on the field. "I've done it in the Minor Leagues and in high school. "That's what we'll tell fans. Flip for Chone, and I'll flip for you." Figgins is hoping to join teammates Torii Hunter and Brian Fuentes on the AL roster representing the two-time reigning AL champions in the July 14 All-Star Game at Busch Stadium. The Angels' public relations department plans to pump Figgins' candidacy for what would be his first All-Star Game appearance on the radio and TV airwaves, along with in-house promotions highlighting his multiple talents on the stadium video boards. Figgins said he's hearing support "coast to coast," from his home in Florida to Southern California. "Everybody from the backwoods to the city," he said, grinning. Now in its eighth year, the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Pepsi and continues until 1 p.m. PT on Thursday. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter. Mobile voting in the U.S. is exclusive to Sprint, Nextel and Boost subscribers. To receive the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote mobile ballot text the word "VOTE" to 1122. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice to 1122. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Standard rate messaging fees also may apply; check with your carrier. Mobile voting in Canada is open to all carriers; fans should text their choices to 88555. The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevy via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint MVP Vote on MLB.com during the All-Star Game. The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 5 p.m. PT. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game. Kinsler and Figgins will go head-to-head the next three days as the Angels and Rangers square off in a duel of AL West co-leaders at Angel Stadium starting Monday night. Figgins has been driving force on manager Mike Scioscia's club with his all-around offensive production and sensational defense at the hot corner. He is in the midst of arguably his best all-around season, ranking among the AL leaders in batting average, runs scored, on-base percentage and steals. "That's center stage," Figgins said of the Midsummer Classic. "It doesn't get any better. For that one time, to say I was an All-Star, it would be such an honor. I can't even begin to tell you how much that would mean to me. "Once you're an All-Star, it never changes. You're always an All-Star. It changes how you're looked at, gives you credibility. You feel respected. You're not just a Major League player any more. You're an All-Star. It's like part of your name, your identity." Until recently, Figgins' identity was tied to his ability to play six positions -- and play them well. "Chone's a Gold Glove third baseman," said Hunter, eight times a Rawlings Gold Glove outfielder. "When you talk about a guy who loves the game and plays every day with everything he's got, that's Chone. He deserves to be on the All-Star team." Figgins would absolutely flip to bring his versatility to manager Joe Maddon's squad in St. Louis. "The game's going to be in a National League park, with no DH," he said. "I've got my outfield glove, ready to go. I could play three or four positions if they need me to." In the National League's Final Vote, Giants infielder Pablo Sandoval has taken the early lead over center fielder Shane Victorino of the Phillies, center fielder Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, third baseman Mark Reynolds of the D-backs and shortstop Cristian Guzman of the Nationals.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.