Biggest rivals compete at first base
Teixeira, Youkilis bring Sox-Yanks competition to All-Star ballot
It's only fitting that one of the biggest rivalries in the voting for next month's All-Star Game comes courtesy of the biggest rivalry in baseball itself.
But when you take a look at the competition brewing for the starting spot at first base for the American League in the 80th Midsummer Classic, there it is once again: Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees, this time in the form of Kevin Youkilis vs. Mark Teixeira.
Youkilis and Teixeira have been trading the top spot in AL first base voting for weeks, with Teixeira leading by 36,000 votes in the June 23 voting and Youkilis taking the top spot back in this week's update, by just more than 40,000 votes.
It isn't difficult to see why.
Through Monday's games, Teixeira had the better power numbers, with 20 home runs to Youkilis' 12; 60 RBIs to Youkilis' 42, and 50 runs to Youkilis' 46.
Then again, Youkilis had a higher batting average (.310 to .276), on-base percentage (.438 to .387) and had played in nine fewer games because of an early-season stint on the disabled list.
Both players have All-Star credentials, with Teixeira having started the game in 2005 while a member of the Texas Rangers and Youkilis earning the starting nod last year in the final All-Star Game at the old Yankee Stadium.
Both players also have stellar defensive reputations. Teixeira won Gold Glove Awards as the league's top first baseman in 2005 and 2006 and Youkilis annexed that award in 2007.
And what's a Red Sox-Yankees head-to-head battle without a little bit of added drama?
Consider this: In the winter of 2008, when free agent Teixeira was being courted by what his agent, Scott Boras, referred to as "10 or 12 teams," high on the list were the Yankees and the Red Sox, the latter of whom would have theoretically moved Youkilis to third base to accommodate Teixeira.
So after the Bronx Bombers nabbed Teixeira for eight years and $180 million and the Red Sox then defeated the Yankees in the first eight 2009 meetings between the two teams, Boston owner John Henry playfully wrote "The MT curse?" on his Twitter page, referring to Teixeira going to New York instead of the Red Sox.
That prompted Teixeira to say, "There's no reason to get into a war of words with a 70-year-old man," even though Henry doesn't turn 60 until September.
Henry didn't take it any further, writing in an email to MLB.com, "I have a great admiration for what he brings to the Yankees and to baseball. One of the best players in the game."
Just another fun part of a great rivalry, one that should get even more headline fodder when this epic All-Star showdown gets its winner.
In-stadium voting has ended, but fans can still vote online for starters up to 25 times with the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 club sites until Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Starting rosters will be announced during the 2009 All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Pepsi on TBS on July 5. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote at MLB.com.
And the voting doesn't end there. Fans will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet at the Midsummer Classic via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint MVP Vote at MLB.com.
The All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX and around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio play-by-play, while MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.