Voting begins for '05 All-Star Game

Voting begins for '05 All-Star Game

You're up.

There is nothing in professional sports that gets fans more involved than Major League Baseball's All-Star voting process, and the worldwide fun for millions began again on Wednesday, with the release of the 2005 ballot.

You made Alfonso Soriano the top vote-getter for last year's All-Star Game, and he confirmed your wisdom by winning the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award for his performance in the Midsummer Classic in Houston. But what who do you vote for now at second base in the American, with the Orioles' Brian Roberts so hot?

Yes, there are going to be lots of questions like that to ask yourself. The 76th All-Star Game will be played on July 12 at Comerica Park in Detroit, and the in-stadium ballot is launching there now. It's time to start punching ballots again, and you already can feel the electricity of another likely record-smashing summer with the online vote.

Fans can vote up to 25 times through the Ameriquest 2005 All-Star Online Ballot available at and on all 30 club sites. Online voting ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on June 30, and recent history assures us that there will be some dramatic late moves in the weekly voting updates you will be reading.

The 2005 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 program will feature the announcement of the 17 elected starters, as determined by fan balloting, and the 45 pitchers and reserves, as determined by the player ballot, the two All-Star managers -- Terry Francona of the Boston Red Sox and Tony La Russa of the St. Louis 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 The Ameriquest 2005 All-Star Final Vote will provide fans the opportunity to choose from a list of five players from each league over a three-day period. Both winners will be announced after the voting has concluded on Wednesday, July 6.

Concluding the All-Star balloting process, fans once again will participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player, presented by Chevrolet, through the Ameriquest 2005 All-Star Game MVP Vote on

The All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX and around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive, national radio coverage, will provide extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will air exclusive play-by-play coverage on the Internet.

Watching an All-Star Game is especially fun because you can say that you had something to do with making it happen.

"It's great, because it gives fans a chance to determine who they like best, and it reminds you of when you filled out your first ballot as a kid," said Mets first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, who is on the ballot as a National Leaguer for the first time in his career. "When I voted then, I was very biased to the down-and-dirty, gritty type of guys. I would say, 'If I played that position, who would I try to emulate?' It would be a Wally Backman or someone like that, a gritty guy."

When asked how it feels to be on the ballot instead of filling it out, Mientkiewicz deadpanned: "That's as close as I'm ever going to get to the game."

Indeed, the player who caught the last out of the 2004 season now finds his particular path lined with such marquee first basemen as Albert Pujols, Carlos Delgado, Jim Thome, Todd Helton and Jeff Bagwell.

But that's the beauty of Major League Baseball's All-Star voting process.

You're up, and you get to make the call.

Does Barry Bonds still enter the picture in 2005? He is out indefinitely at the start of this season because of two knee surgeries, but he's Barry Bonds, and there have been numerous cases of superstars riding high vote totals even though they've seen little or no game action.

Does Sammy Sosa jump from the starting NL outfield to the starting AL outfield after being traded by the Cubs to the Orioles? Ichiro Suzuki of Seattle is a traditional voting favorite, he's coming off a record-setting year for hits and is seemingly on his way to more legend in 2005. Throw in such names as Vlad Guerrero, Manny Ramirez, Hideki Matsui and others, and the American League outfield figures to be a great quandary.

Do the Yankees still own most of the AL's starting lineup, or will Francona be handed a more familiar group in the wake of Boston's World Series championship? Edgar Renteria is one example of a player who went from starting at shortstop in the NL (representing St. Louis) to the Red Sox, and he now faces stiff competition, including the Yankees' Derek Jeter and Baltimore's Miguel Tejada.

With Delgado switching leagues, do you give some clicks and punches to Seattle first baseman Richie Sexson in his first time on the AL ballot? Or maybe Texas up-and-comer Mark Teixeira? Scanning the list of all positions for both leagues, AL first baseman could be the most wide open of all positions, one just waiting for someone's hot first half.

Sexson's new teammate, Adrian Beltre, also switched leagues, so could perennial All-Star Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees have tougher competition for your vote at AL third base?

And speaking of perennial starters, can Mike Piazza carry on his tradition at NL catcher after a lot of shuffling the past year on that part of the ballot? It's Paul Lo Duca's first full year as a Marlin and Mike Matheny has moved to San Francisco, or maybe you have your eye on his Cardinal replacement, young Yadier Molina.

The All-Star Game spans generations and generations, weaving time together like that. The fan vote was on-again and off-again for much of the early years of the event, which began in 1933 as a way to bring together the game's best players -- but more than anything to see the great Babe Ruth on the same field with his top peers. At least that's what participants of the first Midsummer Classic would say later.

It would have been inconceivable for anyone then to fathom just what a spectacle this has become, starting with the actual voting process. The online vote has helped push the intensity level of voting into the stratosphere, and the International ballot (coming in May) has made it a global vote in different languages online or in stadiums. announced a record 10.6 million ballots cast online in 2004 -- representing more than 70 percent of the overall All-Star ballots cast. It is a continuation in a seemingly inexorable march of year-over-year quantum leaps.

Now it all starts again. You get to decide the starting position players. Then you get to complete the rosters. Then you even get to help decide the best of the best on the night when the Midsummer Classic returns to Detroit for the first time since 1971. It is a lot of responsibility, a lot of tough choices and a lot of fun.

"Generally they do OK," said Marlins broadcaster and former Major Leaguer Tommy Hutton of the fans' track record. "Every year there's somebody who gets shafted, but it would happen anyway, whatever the process. ... I like the 32nd-man vote, because it allows someone else to get in who's on the fence."

A lot of people around baseball are just waiting to see how you choose, and recent history shows that you wouldn't have it any other way.

All-Star voting season is officially under way again.

You're up.

Vote now!

Mark Newman is enterprise editor for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.