All-Star races tighten in AL
Sox's domination receding as Twins, Rangers surge in voting
A Red Sox National emergency?Maybe, not yet; don't call out the Red Sox National Guard. Don't want to overstate what is transpiring in the virtual and actual All-Star voting booths. But the Boston Red Sox, who began the balloting campaign toward hostile Yankee Stadium like Gen. Sherman had begun his infamous march from Atlanta, have started to run into some roadblocks.
The Red Sox haven't exactly lost their grip. But as indicated by the latest weekly voting update, announced Monday afternoon, they have lost two significant edges, and their hold on a couple of other positions is looser.At catcher, Minnesota's Joe Mauer culminated a furious charge of several weeks by finally overtaking Boston's Jason Varitek. A 323,000-vote week catapulted Mauer into a 44,775 lead over the Red Sox veteran. Meanwhile, Derek Jeter zipped past David Ortiz to grab the lead in overall votes. The Yankees captain attracted more than 424,000 votes last week to jump his total to 1,988,251, giving him a slim lead of fewer than 6,000 over the Boston designated hitter. Ortiz extended his lead at DH to more than 750,000 votes over the Yankees' Hideki Matsui, and while three of Big Papi's teammates also maintained their position leads, they are shrinking. At first base, Kevin Youkilis' edge over Mauer's teammate, Justin Morneau, is down to fewer than 270,000. At second base, Texas' Ian Kinsler made up more than 50,000 votes on Dustin Pedroia to creep within 166,000. And among the outfield leaders, No. 1 Manny Ramirez continues to lead the Rangers' Josh Hamilton, but his cushion is down to less than 126,000 votes. Considering the trend of the past couple of weeks, we appear to be in store for some frenetic races to the voting wire. Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times with the Monster 2008 All-Star Game Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 club sites until Wednesday, July 2, at 11:59 p.m. ET. Starting rosters will be announced during the 2008 All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Chevrolet on TBS on Sunday, July 6. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the Monster 2008 All-Star Final Vote at MLB.com. And the voting won't end there. Fans will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet at the All-Star Game via the Monster 2008 All-Star Game MVP vote at MLB.com. With his charge, Mauer accounted for the first disruption of the leaderboard in three weeks, or since Hamilton stormed into second place among outfielders by ousting the Angels' Vladimir Guerrero from the top three. Mauer's move into a position to make his first All-Star start was also the week's only shakeup on the charts, which reflect the top 15 vote-getters among outfielders and the five leaders at each of the other positions. Despite the status quo, some of the shrinking leads imply heated stretch runs for the honor of a spot in the American League's starting lineup for the 79th All-Star Game as outgoing Yankee Stadium takes one of the deepest bows of its farewell season on July 15. The leaders in peril, however, do not include the left side of the Bombers' infield. Jeter stretched out his lead over Texas' Michael Young to almost 850,000 votes, and enjoying an even less-contested romp is Alex Rodriguez. The AL's reigning MVP has nearly doubled up Mike Lowell of the Red Sox -- with 1,940,827 votes, A-Rod is nearly one million ahead of Lowell. The third leg of the outfield tripod is hardly set. The Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki is 187,088 votes ahead of Guerrero. To put that slim lead into context, Ichiro himself trails No. 2 Hamilton by more than 670,000. Adding to the intrigue, no less than five other outfielders are fewer than 200,000 behind Guerrero. They include Milton Bradley, who continued to climb the charts and is now No. 7 with more than 800,000 ballots. This Midsummer Classic will be the fourth held at Yankee Stadium and the eighth in New York City. The Yankees previously hosted the All-Star Game in 1939, 1960 and 1977; the Polo Grounds held the game in 1934 and 1942; Ebbets Field was the site in 1949; and Shea Stadium hosted the 1964 tilt. The All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, 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. ET. 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.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.