CLEVELAND -- The final push is on and Steve Delabar will find out in the near future whether he has been successful in his quest to make the 2013 American League All-Star team.
Delabar is one of five candidates for the Final Vote, which is a fan ballot to determine the final roster spot in both the American and National Leagues.
The support has been overwhelming at times but is appropriate considering Delabar is three years removed from his days as a substitute teacher in Kentucky and now finds himself as one of the most reliable relievers in the game.
"A lot of support from a lot of people, back home, teams, players, host families, trainers that I've had in the past," Delabar said. "Everybody that I've played with, everybody that I've ever been affiliated with, they're all showing their support and it's amazing.
"The Jays, they're blowing it up. Their fan base, obviously it's one of the biggest. One team for a whole country is amazing, so all I can say is, 'Wow.' They're great, they're so supportive, they love their team and I can just say thank you."
The Blue Jays are raising the bar themselves in the form of a Twitter contest on Thursday, with one winner and a guest receiving round-trip airfare courtesy of WestJet, two tickets to the 2013 MLB All-Star Game and hotel for one night in New York City. Fans are eligible for the contest when they send out a tweet that contains that hashtag #RaiseTheBar or re-tweet a tweet with the hashtag. One entry will be allowed per twitter account, with official rules available at bluejays.com/contests.
Delabar currently ranks tied for second in wins (five) and third in strikeouts (57) amongst AL relievers. He has allowed just five earned runs in his past 32 2/3 innings and has yet to give up more than two runs in any of his 37 appearances this season.
The 27-year-old also ranks fifth in ERA at 1.74 and has become one of manager John Gibbons' most trusted arms out of the bullpen. He has been able to do most of his damage with an overpowering fastball which averages 95 mph but occasionally hits 97-98.
Delabar's often tasked with facing the heart of the opposing team's order when the Blue Jays are clinging to a small lead late in ballgames and has picked up four holds and a save for his efforts.
"The year that I've had is going pretty well so to be considered is an honor," Delabar said. "There's a lot of guys out there that could be in consideration fo the Final Vote so it's an honor just to be mentioned."
Thursday marks the final day of voting and it's also the time period when fans came make their opinions heard through Twitter. The Final Vote will count support from fans over the last six hours of balloting toward candidates' vote totals. From 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. ET, all tweets with a designated player hashtag will be tabulated as part of the official vote.
Delabar's official slogan is #RaiseTheBar and he's already received a vote of confidence from some prominent Canadians. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made his choice clear by Tweeting: "Hey Blue Jays fans, let's get @SteveDelabar_50 into the MLB All-Star Game, he deserves to be there #raisethebar."
If Delabar's going to be successful he's likely going to have to rely on the Canadian vote, which dominated most of the action from Saturday until late Wednesday night. As of Wednesday, 84.5 percent of the votes in Canada were going to Delabar, with a lot of support coming from his home state of Kentucky as well.
The fact that Delabar is receiving so much support north of the border doesn't come as a total shock. He saw first-hand while playing for Seattle last season just how far the Blue Jays' fanbase stretches. There are a lot of benefits to being the only Major League team in a country.
"All of the places close to Canada, we get a huge following and it's just awesome," Delabar said. "I remember last year in Seattle, I almost thought it was embarrassing because [the Blue Jays] had more fans than we did and then I got traded to them the next day and I go over the next day and I was like, 'This is awesome!' To have such a huge fan base like that is just awesome."
Now in its 12th year, the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Saturday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell and ends Thursday at 4 p.m. ET. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
There will be an extra treat for fans who participate in the Final Vote online. If you are not a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you are eligible to receive a 14-day free trial of MLB.TV from July 12-26. If you are a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you will receive a 15-percent discount to the MLB.com Shop. MLB.com will send an email on July 12 to all Final Vote voters with instructions on how to redeem the applicable offer.
Mobile voting in the U.S. and Canada is open to everyone. In the U.S., to receive the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for Delabar, simply text message A2 to 89269. In Canada, fans should text A2 to 101010. Standard message and data rates may apply.