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One hour left to vote in close All-Star races

One hour left to vote in close All-Star races

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The largest All-Star Game balloting program in sports comes to a screeching halt at 11:59 ET tonight, and your 25 votes per email are pouring in through the exclusive 2010 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot sponsored by Sprint. Who will be your choices to start Major League Baseball's 81st Midsummer Classic on July 13 in Anaheim? Here is a look at the closest races:

Which player will emerge from the triumvirate of American League first basemen competing for the starting slot? As of the last American League update, Justin Morneau of the Twins held a lead of just under 300,000 votes over Mark Teixeira of the Yankees and Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers. But over the past 72 hours of exclusive online balloting, Cabrera has made a strong bid to close the gap, receiving 70 percent more online votes than Teixeira and almost 10 percent more than Morneau.

Will Carl Crawford of the Rays garner enough votes to prevent Nelson Cruz of the Rangers and Nick Swisher of the Yankees from jumping into the mix for the final starting spot in the AL outfield? The most recent update had Crawford leading the way, and over the last 72 hours of online voting, the 2009 All-Star Game MVP has outpaced Swisher by one percent and Cruz by 16 percent. Swisher is bidding to be the first Yankees outfielder elected since Bernie Williams in 2000. Josh Hamilton and Ichiro Suzuki are safe picks to be the first two outfielders, although their order of finish is up in the air right now.

Has David Wright received enough votes to surpass Placido Polanco and earn his fourth All-Star starter election? Among this duo battling for the starting spot at National League third base, Wright trailed Polanco in the latest update by 22,000 votes but has received 118 percent more online votes in the past 72 hours. Polanco has led in every update since the first one in May, but Wright has trended higher in every update since the first one. It's Phillies vs. Mets fans down the stretch, even if Polanco is on the disabled list.

Will Joe Mauer's lead over Derek Jeter to be the American League's top vote-getter hold and make him just the second AL backstop to earn the honor? The 2009 AL MVP from the Twins had amassed nearly four million votes as of the last update and over the past three days has received 24 percent more online votes than the Yankees' captain, who was last year's AL top vote-getter. Mauer would join Ivan Rodriguez (2000) as the only AL catchers to achieve this distinction.

Will Albert Pujols become just the third player to be voted a league's top vote-getter at least four times? The most recent update had the Cardinals first baseman fewer than 400,000 votes ahead of Chase Utley in the NL. Over the past 72 hours, as Utley has gone onto the disabled list with a hand injury, Pujols has tried to extend the lead with 50 percent more online votes than the Phillies second baseman. Pujols would join Ken Griffey Jr. (8) and Rod Carew (4) for this distinction if his lead holds.

Will Yadier Molina be the first St. Louis catcher to earn back-to-back starting spots behind-the-plate for the NL? And will he do so by holding off Brian McCann of the Braves for the second straight year? In the latest update, Molina was ahead of McCann and over the past 72 hours of online voting was trending 50 percent higher. Is there an 11th-hour campaign coming from Braves fans? With Jason Heyward expected to be chosen as a starter, but not to play due to injury, will the NL East leader have anyone in the starting lineup on July 13?

The final answers to each of the 17 balloting races will come on Sunday when the American and National League All-Star teams are unveiled on the 2010 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show, televised nationally on TBS at noon ET. MLB.com will provide comprehensive coverage of the All-Star teams, including high-quality video and details of every All-Star and the players on the ballot in the 2010 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint, immediately following the announcement.

Just think of it as some extra fireworks for your Fourth of July this time.

The pitchers and reserves for both squads -- totaling 25 for the NL and 24 for the AL -- will be determined through a combination of Player Ballot choices and selections made by the two All-Star managers -- Joe Girardi of the Yankees (AL) and Charlie Manuel of the Phillies (NL) -- in conjunction with MLB.

Immediately following the announcement of the All-Star rosters, fans will begin voting to select the final player for each league's 34-man roster via the 2010 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint. Fans will cast votes from a list of five players from each league over a four-day period and the winners will be announced after the voting concludes on July 10.

Now in its sixth year, fans again will be able to make their Final Vote selections on their mobile phones, exclusive to Sprint subscribers.

The final phase of All-Star Game voting will have fans again participating in the official voting for the All-Star Game Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2010 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint. Crawford won it in 2009.

More than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots were distributed at the 30 Major League ballparks, each of which had 23 home dates for balloting. Ballots also were distributed in about 100 Minor League ballparks. In addition, Scotts was the official sponsor of the 2010 Retail All-Star Balloting Program, which began on May 10 exclusively at approximately 1,700 Lowe's stores across the country. All of those ballots were thrown into the big heap as fans are going strictly with the digital vote from here to the finish.

The 81st Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau de Sport, and 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. MLB.com, MLB Network and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Follow @MLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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