Last day to make All-Star vote count

Last day to make your vote count

It's the bottom of the ninth for the Monster All-Star Online Ballot here at, and let's assume that baseball fans once again break the record for number of ballots cast in the final 24 hours of voting.

That would mean more than 2.3 million ballots submitted from midnight Wednesday to the deadline of 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday. That is how many ballots came in during that time a year ago, and something bigger happens every year now. Just think what could happen to the starting lineups for the July 11 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh if -- as expected -- that last-chance turnout is repeated or bettered.

Actually, some pretty amazing developments.

The ballpark and retail balloting is long over, the weekly league voting updates are over, and now it is just you and your 25 allotted online ballots. The tally so far reflects voting that began in late April. Everyone now can see what the starting lineups look like to date. Everyone sees the league leaders, individual stats and true All-Star prowess.

It can be a day of correction, and it can be a day to run up the score. To some people, it is the last chance to right a perceived wrong. To some people, it is an opportunity to push a positional leader all the way to top overall vote-getter. It's your last chance to say what the term "All-Star" truly means.

How much of a difference can more than 2.3 million last-chance ballots make?

Twins catcher Joe Mauer is now up to .392 at the plate, which means he is poised to make a rare serious run -- San Diego's Tony Gwynn was last more than a decade ago -- at being the first .400 hitter since Ted Williams batted .406 in 1941.

Mauer zoomed up to third place in the final American League catcher voting update this week, and now is within striking distance of a couple of catchers who play big roles for hot teams: Jason Varitek of the Red Sox and Ivan Rodriguez of the Tigers.

Varitek (1,090,102 votes) and Rodriguez (1,047,987) are neck-and-neck, the tightest race of any 1-2 leaders on the ballot. Mauer has 769,284 and the voting momentum so far. A hair's-breadth behind him is Jorge Posada of the Yankees, at 768,280.

How much of a difference can more than 2.3 million last-chance ballots make?

Mark Loretta of the Red Sox has 966,652 votes at AL second base, and playing for a team that had won 11 consecutive games entering Thursday night. Robinson Cano of the Yankees leads with 1,045,221 -- a difference of just 78,569. If more than 2.3 million ballots are submitted, that difference is practically a rounding error. Who will it be? Will Tadahito Iguchi of the White Sox make a substantial leap on his total of 849,149?

In the outfield, Boston's Manny Ramirez took over the status of AL top vote-getter to date. The nine-time All-Star has drawn 1,936,373 votes, slightly ahead of the 1,932,366 cast for Vladimir Guerrero of the Angels. Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners rounds out the starting outfield with 1,393,462 votes. Will Johnny Damon, one of the early leaders in the balloting, get a last-day surge? He is in fourth and needs to make up about 170,000 votes to catch Ichiro -- not out of the question by any means. More than 400,000 votes behind Ichiro is Toronto's Vernon Wells, currently fifth.

Is everyone cool with David Ortiz of the Red Sox leading Jason Giambi of the rival Yanks at AL first base by nearly 650,000 votes? Derek Jeter of the Yankees leading Miguel Tejada of the Orioles at AL shortstop by more than 450,000 votes? Alex Rodriguez of the Yanks leading Mike Lowell of the Red Sox by less than 900,000 votes? The mass public still has to speak, so none of those races has been called yet.

How much of a difference can more than 2.3 million last-chance ballots make?

The National League outfield is very much "TBA," and as reported this week, there is precedent in that category for late dramatics. In 2003, Albert Pujols entered the final week in fourth place while making an early run at the Triple Crown. The last day of balloting powered him all the way to top vote-getter in the NL.

Jason Bay of the Pirates jumped to No. 1 in the final updates this week, but will he survive the final 24 hours? Carlos Beltran of the Mets and Alfonso Soriano of the Nationals fill out the starting picture to date. Junior Griffey, the Reds' veteran of many All-Star outings, has to make up more than 117,939 votes to catch Soriano. Andruw Jones of the Braves is in fifth, 116,777 behind Griffey.

Shortstop Jose Reyes of the Mets has been NL Player of the Week for the last two weeks (one shared with teammate David Wright), and he is playing for a Mets team that has one intensely excited fan base. But Jack Wilson of the All-Star host Pirates just came from out of nowhere. He made a lightning jump to blow by David Eckstein of the Cardinals for second place, and is only 81,988 votes away from Reyes. Edgar Renteria of the Braves and Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies are fourth and fifth, respectively, and all are within striking distance in what is suddenly emerging as a drama race.

Wright leads incumbent All-Star Scott Rolen of the Cardinals by 345,344 at NL third base. Is that a safe lead? You, the jury, will decide.

There is even less margin at second base, where Chase Utley of the Phillies leads Houston's Craig Biggio by 139,024 votes. And no one can dismiss Jose Castillo of the Pirates, who is only 184,153 behind Utley in third place.

How much of a difference can more than 2.3 million last-chance ballots make?

No one knows better than Mike Piazza. He has received a gazillion All-Star votes in his career, sometimes elected by a closer margin than at other times. Now in his first year with the Padres, there is actually a real possibility that an NL lineup will be announced without his name in it. Paul Lo Duca, his replacement as the Mets' backstop, leads with 1,281,767 votes. Piazza is in second by a margin of 400,819, which would seem to be safe, except that nobody knows what you people are doing this very minute.

Pujols is the closest thing to a mortal lock. He leads the NL at first base with 2,206,409 votes, compared to 946,093 for Carlos Delgado of the Mets. Even if more than 2.3 million ballots are submitted, that means a whole lot of fans would suddenly require a change of heart. Pujols is your probable 2006 top vote-getter.

But even that is in question on the final day. Maybe it will be Manny, who is second and 270,036 votes behind Pujols in the race for that distinction.

Starting lineups will be announced at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday on ESPN's "Major League Baseball All-Star Game Selection Show."

Recent history also shows that this week is just a warm-up for intense online voting. For the fifth year, immediately following the conclusion of Sunday's announcement show, fans will select the final position player for each league's 32-man roster via the Monster 2006 All-Star Final Vote exclusively at In addition, fans will be able to cast their Final Man vote via their mobile phones, and more details will be forthcoming.

The Final Vote will provide fans the opportunity to cast their votes from two lists of five players from each league over a three-day period. NL All-Star manager Phil Garner of the Astros and AL All-Star manager Ozzie Guillen of the White Sox each will designate five players who will be the candidates for the Final Vote. Balloting will continue until that Wednesday night, and the winners will be announced on ESPN and shortly thereafter.

The 77th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and broadcast around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pre-game ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive, national radio coverage, while will provide extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will provide exclusive play-by-play coverage of the game on the Internet.

Who will be there at PNC Park? We're about to find out how much of a difference more than 2.3 million ballots in one incredible day can make.

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