LOS ANGELES – The clock strikes noon Wednesday, and “The Final Countdown” blares just a little too loud on the Ketel One Club speakers at Dodger Stadium.
Devoted fans, many of whom have been staring at a computer screen and clicking constantly (once every four seconds, one estimated) since 1 p.m. a day earlier, let go of the mouse long enough to clap their hands for a “Vote for Muncy” rhythmic chant. They know the drill by now.
Why, you might ask, would these fans subject their index fingers and eyes to this treatment?
Because their shining star needs their help. And no, it’s not Clayton Kershaw, Justin Turner, or Cody Bellinger. It’s their unassuming, unlikely, almost unbelievable utility man: six-foot slugger Max Muncy – more commonly referred to as “Max freaking Muncy?!” by the rest of the league.
Sixty-nine games into his 2018 campaign, he’s racked up 21 homers and an OPS of 1.029. He wasn’t elected to the 2018 All-Star game through the initial round of fan voting, but was put on the Final Vote ballot.
For the second-straight year, Dodgers traveling fan group Pantone 294 put on a vote-a-thon, enlisting tens of fans (and this year, 80-year-old former player and longtime coach Manny Mota) to spend the last 24 hours of the Final Vote period attempting to get a player into the game.
“A lot of people think he’s a rookie, but he’s not. He came from the Oakland A’s, and he wasn’t a big name out there, but he’s been the MVP of the season for us,” Pantone 294 CEO Alex Soto told Yahoo Sports. “It’s great to have somebody else other than just Corey [Seager] or [Yasiel] Puig – you know, it’s a team effort.”
“He blew a lot of people’s minds because they didn’t expect him to be where he is now,” said Alysia Ramirez, a young woman whose father sent her to the vote-a-thon in his place. “It says a lot about how you shouldn’t give up on your team, because I know he had a rough start, but he obviously became a big impact on the team.”
Our conversation is interrupted.
“When I say ‘Max,’ you say ‘Muncy,'” Dodgers video producer Eric Vazquez yells, continuing, “When I say ‘all,’ you say ‘star.'” Twenty-three and a half hours into their mission, the room responds with gusto.
Muncy, a fifth-round pick in the 2012 draft, came out of relative obscurity to steal fans’ hearts over the past two months. Despite his misleading rookie aura, Muncy played nearly 100 big league games over his 2015 and 2016 seasons with the Oakland Athletics, during which he hit a combined total of five home runs; he never hit more than 12 in any triple-A season.
This marks the second year that Pantone 294 has rallied fans to vote. Last year’s effort was prompted by the Dodgers, was less organized, and only lasted a few hours.
“We are the only ones with a fan group doing it,” said Matt Barrera, who created videos for Pantone 294. “These other guys had players doing it, and that’s all fine and well, but this just shows what it is about franchise in and of itself, and its fans.” The Dodgers’ chief rival, the San Francisco Giants, had a Final Vote-related video of players Hunter Pence and Derek Holland go viral earlier this week.
While many in attendance are employees of Pantone 294, others are taking time out of their otherwise leisurely summer days to join the caffeine-fueled frenzy. The team provided donuts, pizza, and other snacks.
“I watched about five movies on Netflix. I didn’t sleep at all,” said Barrera, with one hand on his voting phone and one on his laptop. “A couple Red Bulls, a couple things of sugar, food, you know. I’m hitting a wall, but I’m going to get the last half an hour in, and I’ll be good.”
He was starting to feel some light cramping in his right pinky – a small sacrifice to the baseball gods.
“He’s an unsung hero almost, so he definitely deserves it,” Barrera continued. Others echoed his sentiment: “He’s just so humble. He’s a good guy. He’s not a show-off, he brings good to the team. He’s a hard worker. He deserves it,” said local and life-long fan Lorraine Rodriguez. “He deserves it.”
And in an era where “deserve” is a term used loosely when it comes All-Star status, these fans realized it was up to them to give back to a team that has given them so much.
“It shows that love back – how much they mean to us,” said Eduardo Plasencia. “We just want to see him be good. He’s an underdog, we support all our players regardless of being in the All-Star Game, and we’re here for him.”
And so the room counted down as the clock struck one. The speaker blasted “Max Muncy, that funky Muncy” to the tune of the Beastie Boys’ “Brass Monkey” as fathead versions of the soft-spoken star danced around.
All anyone could do was wait. If someone else is voted more “deserving,” Muncy will at least be in D.C. next week as one of the most improbable Home Run Derby participants imaginable.
More from Yahoo Sports:
• Not comin’ home: Croatia defeats England in extra time to advance to World Cup Final
• Steph Curry denies Warriors are ‘ruining the NBA’
• England fined $70K for wearing ‘unauthorized’ socks
• Caught on camera: Pacman Jones attacked at Atlanta airport