All-Star Selection Show live now on TBS
After teams are announced, fans can make Final Vote picks
After more than two months of faithfully voting up to 25 times online and punching ballpark ballots, Major League Baseball fans have spoken loudly to decide starting position players for the 80th All-Star Game on July 14 at Busch Stadium.
Fans spoke so loudly that they voted in record numbers, once again setting online-ballot records. The 223.5 million votes cast and 17.8 million ballots submitted were both the largest figures recorded in the nine years of online balloting at MLB.com, surpassing the previous records set in 2008.
Now it's time to find out how you did, and then start an even more intense round of voting to finalize those American and National League rosters.
The 2009 All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Pepsi is airing now on TBS, revealing 32 of the 33 spots for each roster. That will be immediately followed by the launch of the four-day 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote, giving fans the opportunity for the eighth straight year to add the last star to both rosters.
Did Ian Kinsler of the Rangers hold off Dustin Pedroia for the AL second-base spot? Kinsler had a lead of fewer than 7,000 votes in the final update on Tuesday, but the reigning AL MVP from Boston was gaining fast in the final days.
Did Kevin Youkilis make it four straight years for a Boston first baseman to be voted the AL starter? Mark Teixeira of the rival Yankees was surging in the final 72 hours in hopes of closing a 40,000-vote gap. They were see-sawing each week, so this was anyone's guess.
Did Jacoby Ellsbury pull this year's Ryan Braun and leapfrog three players in the scramble to earn the final starting spot in the AL outfield? You knew that frontrunners Jason Bay of Boston and Ichiro Suzuki of Seattle were pretty much locked in for the first two spots, but there was plenty of suspense over the third outfielder. Did Josh Hamilton of the Rangers hold on? Ellsbury was charging amid a chase also involving Hamilton, Torii Hunter of the Angels and Carl Crawford of the Rays.
Did Brian McCann of the Braves have enough gas to keep sprinting all the way past Yadier Molina? Or did the Cardinals' catcher resist that rally sufficiently to become the first NL catcher in 17 years to be voted a hometown starter? If Molina's lead was lost in this race, it would go down as one of the biggest final-week comebacks in All-Star voting history.
Did Carlos Beltran of the Mets garner enough votes to hold off the late charges from Chicago's Alfonso Soriano and Philadelphia's Shane Victorino? Raul Ibanez of the Phillies and Braun of the Brewers were a comfortable 1-2, respectively, in the final update on Monday. Being on the disabled list did not seem to hurt Ibanez, and it remained to be seen whether the same could be said of Beltran in this race for the third spot.
Did hometown All-Star Albert Pujols beat out Chase Utley of the Phillies to become the NL's top vote-getter for the third time in his career? Pujols, who through Wednesday had 30 homers already, was fewer than 100,000 votes ahead of Utley in Monday's final update. Pujols also was extending his lead as of the last reported update on MLB.com Thursday afternoon.
All of this will become clear during the TBS show. And one of the best things about that show is that it just gets things rolling again for you, the voting public.
The always-popular 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the 33rd and final player on each All-Star team. Balloting begins immediately following that announcement show and continues until 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 9. Teams and individual fan bases that are involved will try to throw the most forceful grassroots campaigns behind their candidates, and the two winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
Charlie Manuel of the defending world champion Phillies and Joe Maddon of the Rays will be managing the NL and AL teams, respectively. They will each choose five nominees for you, and then it will be up to you to decide which is most deserving of rounding out the roster. Last year, fans went with Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria and Milwaukee outfielder Corey Hart. Both players had significant playing time in the outcome of the AL's subsequent 4-3 victory, due to the fact that the game went 15 innings. Longoria doubled in the tying run in the eighth inning, going 1-for-4; Hart was 0-for-3 coming off the bench. So these votes can matter.
It is anyone's guess who will be on the ballot, because everyone is waiting for the 2009 All-Star Game Selection Show not only to see the starters but also to see how managers, players and MLB ultimately determined the rest of the rosters. Twenty-four reserves for both squads will be determined through a combination of "Player Ballot" choices and selections made by Manuel and Maddon -- in conjunction with MLB.
There will be two ways for fans to participate in the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote -- online at MLB.com, or on-the-go from mobile devices.
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 8 p.m. 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.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.