With two days left, races down to wire
Positions up for grabs all over All-Star diamond
And then there were two.
Only two full days left to vote online for baseball's 76th All-Star Game, which will be played Tuesday, July 12, at Comerica Park in Detroit.
And two leagues with positional races that are still very much up for grabs.
It's important to note that a record 10.6 million online ballots represented more than 70 percent of the overall All-Star vote count in 2004, and fans can cast their votes up to 25 times with the Ameriquest All-Star Online Ballot, which is available exclusively at MLB.com and all 30 club sites.
And Monday afternoon's AL voting update reveals that three of the races in the Junior Circuit have changed significantly over the course of the balloting -- and they could change again before online voting ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday.
At first base in the AL, for example, the New York Yankees' Tino Martinez held a sizable lead for much of the weekly voting until Monday, when Mark Teixeira of the Texas Rangers finally jumped into first.
Teixeira slowly climbed all the way up the ladder and now has 1,077,715 votes, enough to lead Martinez by 144,747.
The other tight race in the AL has Boston Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon nipping at the heels of the top three outfielders. Damon, with 1,550,810 votes, has a fighting chance to crack the top three because he's catching up to Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki, whose recent slump has him only 13,850 votes ahead of Damon at 1,564,660.
It's still looking good for the top two ranking AL outfielders: leader Manny Ramirez of the Red Sox and second-place Vladimir Guerrero of the Angels.
At second base, there's still a race, but Baltimore's Brian Roberts increased his lead to over 100,000 votes ahead of Alfonso Soriano of the Texas Rangers, last year's All-Star MVP and top overall vote-getter.
The rest of the leading vote-getters look like locks to win the balloting.
David Ortiz of the Red Sox is still way ahead at designated hitter, Miguel Tejada appears to have the shortstop position won over the Yankees' Derek Jeter, and Jeter's Yankees teammate, Alex Rodriguez, is still cruising at third.
In the NL, some surprises could be on the horizon.
Take, for example, the ongoing battle for starting honors at first base between Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals and Derrek Lee of the Chicago Cubs. Pujols has led the whole way, but every day Lee continues to put up Triple Crown numbers is another day he gains on Pujols.
Lee continues to cut into Pujols' lead and now trails by less than 60,000 votes, with Pujols at 1,714,179 and Lee at 1,654,267. It's not surprising that these two are the overall leading vote-getters in the NL this year.
A similar battle is brewing at shortstop in the NL.
Cesar Izturis of the Los Angeles Dodgers has been pushed by his team for a starting spot since the voting began, and he is maintaining a lead over scrappy St. Louis shortstop David Eckstein. But Izturis' lead, which was roughly 66,000 votes last week, has shrunk to about 44,000 votes this week.
Otherwise, the rest of the NL spots seem like a done deal.
Catcher (Mike Piazza, New York Mets), second base (Jeff Kent, Los Angeles Dodgers), third base (Scott Rolen, Cardinals) and all three spots in the outfield (Bobby Abreu, Philadelphia Phillies; Jim Edmonds, Cardinals; Carlos Beltran, Mets) appear to be locked up.
The 2005 American League and National League All-Star Teams will be unveiled on the Major League Baseball All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Chevrolet, which will air live on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 3. This special program will feature the announcement of the 17 elected starters, as determined by the fan balloting program, and 45 pitchers and reserves, as determined by the player ballot and the two All-Star Team managers -- Terry Francona of the Red Sox and Tony La Russa of the Cardinals -- and Major League Baseball.
Immediately following the Major League Baseball All-Star Game Selection Show, fans will have the opportunity to select the final position player for each league's 32-man roster at MLB.com. The Ameriquest 2005 All-Star Final Vote will provide fans the opportunity to cast their votes from a list of five players from each league over a three-day period.
There will be two ways for fans to vote for the 2005 All-Star Final Vote - online at MLB.com or on the go from cell phones. Fans can simply text the word "VOTE" to 69652 (MYMLB) and be instantly registered to receive the final vote ballots. Then, for just 99 cents a ballot, they'll have the freedom to vote from wherever they are. Fans can pre-register for the mobile ballot now.
The Ameriquest 2005 All-Star Final Vote will conclude on Wednesday, July 6 at 8 p.m. ET. The two winners will be announced on ESPN and MLB.com shortly thereafter.
Concluding the All-Star balloting process, fans once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game MVP presented by Chevrolet at the 76th All-Star Game via the Ameriquest 2005 All-Star Game MVP Vote on MLB.com. The All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive, national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will provide exclusive play-by-play coverage of the game on the Internet.
In the meantime, there are still two days. Two days left to be counted, heard and represented by your favorite players.
Get to it.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.