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MLB All-Star Game voters: You're not getting away with a damn thing, probably

At least that's what MLB is saying -- and that means this Royals thing is probably for real.

No so fast, MLB All-Star Game voters and apparently countless legions of Royals fans -- if you're trying to game the voting process, your votes are probably getting tossed. MLB has a staff of at least 12 and uses a third-party company working daily to verify the veracity of the millions of votes pouring in, according to Bob Bowman, President of Business & Media for Major League Baseball.

"Nobody bats a thousand," Bowman said Thursday. "But we're pretty close." What pretty close means to Bowman is hard to define, but he maintains the systems his office has in place to detect unscrupulous votes is effective.

How MLB is verifying votes

As Jeffri Chadiha of ESPN reported Wednesday, Bowman confirms these systems include a way to verify email addresses used in the voting process and an IP address check. He didn't explain how the email verification worked, only that they had a way of pinging addresses to see if they were real. I can't say what that means and I honestly don't know how it's possible.

Bowman did say that MLB does send out emails thanking users for voting, during which people whose addresses were used without their permission would be notified -- but I certainly haven't received anything from MLB after my vote. Have you?

"If you're just adding a dot to your email," you're not getting away with the extra votes, Bowman said. As much as 20 percent of submitted votes are being tossed, he says, confirming Chadiha's report. Bowman also says that this year's 20 percent disallowed votes is consistent with previous years despite this year's surge in voting after going to an online-only process.

After the email check and the IP check, the third-party company they're using sorts through the votes and flags suspicious submissions, but MLB makes the final decision on which votes to disqualify. All of this is to say is if you're trying elaborate 'hacks' like intrepid Bless You Boys writer "HookSlide," they're not working. Sorry.

Now consider this: MLB has disqualified between 60-65 million votes, according to Jeff Passan.

So why doesn't MLB add extra security measures to slow down the phonies in the first place? Because, Bowman says, that would only encourage the truly difficult-to-stop tricks advanced users might use, none of which seem readily obvious. Whether those voters are already trying said tricks wasn't noted.

Responding to criticisms

If MLB has such effective systems in place, then how are the Royals dominating the results? Bowman pegs it to "overzealous" fans and widespread support greater than the sum of fans in Kansas City. If that means Omar Infante gets voted in over Jose Altuve, so be it -- Bowman stands by the voting totals as (almost completely) legit, but does suggest a lot can change in the next two weeks before the voting deadline.

If you recall the 2013 Face of MLB contest, another one of MLB's regular forays into online voting, that's exactly what happened. Eric Sogard, he of the bespectacled #nerdpower, was leading the vote until very close to the end of the process. David Wright won, but not without criticism of MLB.

Bowman said criticism of those results and the process in which they happened were not really instructive in how they're handling the voting process here (one is admittedly a form submitted through while the other was simply a Twitter hashtagging effort). But we shouldn't be surprised if a similarly late surge in voting from concerned corners of the internet changes the results at the last minute.

If you've heard the idea that MLB loves the extra attention the Royals' dominance is creating (and is therefore encouraging shenanigans), Bowman certainly doesn't deny it. He did laugh off the suggestion (which I heard from a local goofball on the radio) that allowing it has something to do with getting extra hits or page views for "We get 200 million page views per day," he said -- and views from voting submissions are a drop in that total bucket.

Whether or not changes to the process are necessary remains to be seen. Bowman reiterated what MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said to reporters Tuesday, which is that the league is open to changes if warranted but it's too early to tell either way. What those changes might include, Bowman wouldn't elaborate.

What's important to Bowman is that, "for the most part, voters get it right," and to him, that means that fans are voting to build, "the best teams in a game that matters." You know what? He's right: