© 2005 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

07/06/05 1:40 AM ET

Jeter, Oswalt lead in Final Vote

We're halfway to the wire in the Ameriquest All-Star Final Vote and it's almost too close to call.

The balloting continues until 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, so you still have plenty of time to select one final nominee from each league to go to Detroit for the 76th All-Star Game on July 12 and represent that league's 32nd and final roster spot.

After one day of balloting, New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter leads the American League voting by a hair over Chicago White Sox outfielder Scott Podsednik.

The AL's other nominees, in order of current position in the voting, are Minnesota Twins outfielder Torii Hunter, Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui and outfielder Carl Crawford of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

In the National League, Houston Astros right-handed starter Roy Oswalt, no doubt helped by his strong performance in a 4-1 win over San Diego on Monday, leads and is followed closely by closer Trevor Hoffman of the San Diego Padres and sinkerballer Brandon Webb of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Closer Billy Wagner and starter Brett Myers, both of the Philadelphia Phillies, are fourth and fifth in the voting in the NL.

In the Yankees clubhouse, Jeter and Matsui gave each other a nod of support.

"Matsui deserves to go," said Jeter, a six-time All-Star. "Everyone enjoys the All-Star Game. It's special every opportunity you get. I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't want to go to the All-Star Game."

"No doubt, it's going to be Jeter," Matsui said through his interpreter. "I don't really have a preference. If I'm chosen, I'd be honored to go and participate. If I'm not, then I'll take advantage of the break."

AL Final Vote Candidates
Statistics through July 5, 2005
C. CrawfordTB5094625.285.317
D. JeterNYY66103510.308.395
T. HunterMIN51145219.272.343
H. MatsuiNYY5413652.317.385
S. PosednikCWS4601741.286.359

Meanwhile, in Chicago on Monday, Podsednik spent 90 minutes of a two-hour rain delay signing autographs for fans seated behind the dugout. A security guard helped haul in the scorecards and shirts to be signed from the appreciative South Side supporters, while one of Sox manager Ozzie Guillen's sons held up a sign in the background in support of Podsednik's candidacy.

"Vote for Scott," read the younger Guillen's placard.

Oswalt said he knew his performance might have swayed voters either way and admitted he would love to be voted in for his first All-Star appearance.

"Hopefully, I'll get in," Oswalt said. "All you can do is pitch. You can't worry about it. ... I had a few guys come in and tell me they're voting for me."

NL Final Vote Candidates
Statistics through July 5, 2005
T. HoffmanSD0222829.13.68
B. MyersPHI60110110.13.18
R. OswaltHOU11088129.12.44
B. WagnerPHI1203737.12.41
B. WebbARI8088118.03.36

That was the case in the Padres clubhouse, where Hoffman's teammates would love to see their veteran closer earn his fifth All-Star nod. Hoffman also was on the NL roster in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2002.

"Hoffy's the leader of this team, case closed," utility man Robert Fick said. "He commands complete respect in here. He's as respected as anybody I've played with, for who he is and what he's done."

As in every Final Vote, the real winner continues to be the baseball fan.

About four million votes have been cast in the program on MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, its 30 official club sites, and ESPN.com.

This continues a tradition of growth that hit its high point in 2004, when the program saw more than 10 million votes cast, and the winners were Matsui and Bobby Abreu of the Philadelphia Phillies. Last week, MLB.com announced that it had established a new record with 11.5 million online ballots cast in the Ameriquest 2005 All-Star Game Online Ballot, which concluded June 30 with more than 155 million total votes cast in the online program, also a record.

All-Star Game 2005

In that vote, Chicago Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee beat out Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals to win his first starting nod for the NL in the Midsummer Classic, and scrappy Cardinals shortstop David Eckstein came from behind in the final days to overtake Cesar Izturis of the Los Angeles Dodgers and gain his first All-Star appearance and start.

In the AL, Texas Rangers slugger Mark Teixeira and Boston Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon won their inaugural All-Star starts by making stirring last-minute comebacks in the voting.

More comebacks could be on the way in the Final Vote. The votes will be flooding in right up until the deadline, and the 32nd men will be announced on MLB.com shortly afterward.

The Ameriquest All-Star Final Vote was conceived in 2002 as a way to let fans have the final say in a process that traditionally led to water-cooler debate about players who were not selected and had strong cases.

If the past three years are any indication, there will be more grassroots campaigning right until the deadline, not only by clubs representing the nominees but also by fans. MLB.com will provide voting updates during the proceedings.

And this year, there are two ways for fans to vote for the 2005 All-Star Final Vote -- online at MLB.com or on-the-go from their 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 per ballot, they'll have the freedom to vote from wherever they are. Fans can get the mobile ballot now.

The fun doesn't end with the Final Vote, 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 Chevrolet at the 76th All-Star Game via the Ameriquest 2005 All-Star Game MVP Vote on MLB.com. The fan vote counts for 20 percent of the decision, with the media vote accounting for the other 80 percent.

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Reporters Mark Feinsand, Alyson Footer, Scott Merkin and Lyle Spencer contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.