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All-Star secrets revealed tonight

All-Star secrets revealed tonight

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If you can't handle the suspense, get out of the kitchen and get to your television and computer tonight.

The voting for Major League Baseball's 76th All-Star Game is complete, and Selection Sunday is upon us.

By following the results live at MLB.com and on ESPN's Major League Baseball All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Chevrolet at 7 p.m. ET today, you will find out who won the starting positions for the American and National Leagues and the majority of the rest of the rosters.

The 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, the two All-Star Team managers -- Terry Francona of the Red Sox and Tony La Russa of the Cardinals -- and Major League Baseball.

MLB Radio will also have live coverage of the roster announcements. Vinny Micucci and Casey Stern will host "All-Stars Unveiled" beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

Fan voting for the starting teams for the Midsummer Classic, which will be played Tuesday, July 12, in Comerica Park in Detroit, ended Thursday night with the conclusion of the Ameriquest 2005 Online All-Star Balloting on MLB.com.

Fans cast a record 2.3 million ballots in the final 24 hours, bringing the total ballots cast online to 11.5 million with over 155 million online votes, both records. This resulted in some of the most hotly contested races in the American and National Leagues since fan voting began.

The final AL voting update revealed that three of the races in the Junior Circuit had changed significantly over the course of the balloting.

On Sunday night, we'll all see who won the close race for first base. The New York Yankees' Tino Martinez held a sizable lead for much of the balloting period until Monday, when Mark Teixeira of the Texas Rangers jumped ahead.

The other tight race in the AL had Boston Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon nipping at the heels of the other top three outfielders. Damon, with 1,550,810 votes, was catching up to Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki, whose recent slump had him only 13,850 votes ahead of Damon.

It was 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 was still a race, but Baltimore's Brian Roberts increased his lead over Alfonso Soriano -- last year's All-Star MVP and top overall vote-getter -- to more than 100,000 votes.

And while the rest of the leading vote-getters in the AL -- Boston's David Ortiz for designated hitter, Baltimore's Miguel Tejada at shortstop and Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez -- looked like locks to win the balloting, there were some possible surprises on the horizon in the NL.

First base was the closest race in the Senior Circuit, with Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals and Derrek Lee of the Chicago Cubs battling it out since the balloting opened.

Pujols led the whole way, but Lee continued to put up Triple Crown numbers and continued to cut into Pujols' lead.

And at shortstop, the race was too close to call when the ballots closed.

Cesar Izturis of the Los Angeles Dodgers was pushed by his team for a starting spot since the voting began and maintained a late lead over scrappy St. Louis shortstop David Eckstein, but Izturis' lead had shrunk to about 44,000 when online-only voting began.

Otherwise, the rest of the NL spots seemed like a done deal, with 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) apparently locked up.

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.

Last year, fans sent Abreu to his first Midsummer Classic and also punched New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui's ticket to the All-Star Game.

This time, 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 their cell phones. Fans can simply text the word "VOTE" to 69652 (MYMLB) and be instantly registered to receive 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.

The first step is Selection Sunday.

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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