07/12/2003 12:33 AM ET
Fans to have say in MVP
Online voting during All-Star Game a first
All-Star Game MVP Vote Sweepstakes
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
Rosters: AL | NL
Albert Pujols can thank you for bumping him at the last minute from a hopeful National League All-Star reserve to the league's top vote-getter. Hideki Matsui can thank you for vaulting him in the final days from seventh place to a starting American League spot. But will either outfielder thank you as MVP of Tuesday's Midsummer Classic?
Geoff Jenkins and Jason Varitek can thank you for giving them their first All-Star opportunities as the final roster picks in the NL and AL, respectively. But now that you have selected them with the etopps All-Star Final Vote, will they see enough action to warrant yet one more important vote from you?
Let the balloting go on. After casting more than 15 million combined online ballots over the past several weeks to decide many of the players who will attend this year's event -- making it the largest voting program in the history of the Internet -- fans will continue to break new ground in professional sports by helping to honor one of those attendees with the All-Star Game MVP Vote presented by Pepsi.
Beginning in the third inning Tuesday night, fans may cast their votes for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player exclusively at MLB.com. The voting will continue until the MVP is announced immediately after the last out.
The MVP online fan vote will account for 20 percent of the total vote -- with the other 80 percent coming on-site from the Baseball Writers Association of America and the announcers from the All-Star Game's three broadcast rightsholders: FOX Sports, ESPN Radio and MLB International.
"Today online voting allows fans to select the All-Star Game starters, to choose the final player on each team and now, for the first time ever, the opportunity to have a say in the selection of the game's Most Valuable Player," said Bob Bowman, CEO of MLB Advanced Media, the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball.
The first leg of this veritable Fan Triple Crown was the selection of All-Star starters. More than 4.5 million online ballots were cast, augmenting the balloting at baseball stadiums. It now has become an annual thing to expect 11th-hour dramatic changes in the lineup because of that online vote, and Pujols was this year's classic example as he drew 70 percent of his votes from online balloting.
The second leg was July 6-9 with the etopps All-Star Final Vote. Dusty Baker (NL) and Mike Scioscia (AL), managers of this year's event, provided a list of five players in each league so that fans could determine the 32nd man. A record 10.8 million ballots were cast, more than triple last year's total.
The third leg is about to happen. Will this be the first time that a National Leaguer is voted the game's MVP since Mike Piazza in 1996? If so, then you will have a big say in the decision. And when we say "big", just consider some of the names who have been accorded this honor at sports' most traditional All-Star event: Willie Mays, Brooks Robinson, Carl Yastrzemski, Willie McCovey and Don Sutton.
Voting for the All-Star MVP also could bring you more than just the satisfaction of helping to determine the player to be honored. You also will be entered in the All-Star Game MVP Vote Sweepstakes, in which you could win two tickets to the 2004 All-Star festivities in Houston as well as two roundtrip airline tickets there and hotel accommodations.
"Pepsi is delighted to give fans a voice in the selection of the All-Star Game's Most Valuable Player," said John Vail, director of digital media and marketing for Pepsi-Cola North America. "In addition to the fact that this year's game 'counts,' it's another reason for fans to follow the game closely throughout the night."
There was no MVP selected in last year's game, which ended in a tie. MLB owners and players since then have implemented changes in the game's format, and this year the winning league gets home-field advantage in the World Series.
Cal Ripken Jr. was the last All-Star MVP, winning the honor in his final Major League season of 2001. You might recall that he was voted as a starter for that game only because online voters bumped him past David Bell at AL third base in the 11th hour of balloting.
One especially interesting scenario could emerge Tuesday. Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi was an early vote leader at AL first base but was overtaken by Toronto's Carlos Delgado for the starting position. Giambi also was snubbed by fans with the etopps All-Star Final Vote, as Red Sox rival Varitek got the nod. Now that Giambi has been added to the AL roster as a reserve to replace injured Mike Sweeney, could he find an opportunity to finally win over that popular online vote?
We'll find out Tuesday night with an unprecedented opportunity. Recent history suggests that you are not likely to pass up this opportunity.
Mark Newman is a writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.