Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair ...
Scott McKenzie, 1967
It is the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love, and Thursday probably is the best time to celebrate it with a public display of affection.
We're talking about the All-Star ballot.
This is the last day to vote for starters, the end of a process that began in late April when you first saw the list of nominees for the 78th Major League Baseball All-Star Game on July 10 in San Francisco. The Monster All-Star Game Online Ballot closes at 11:59 p.m. ET, and recent history shows that you are going to show some serious love to those deserving All-Stars during this 24-hour PDA.
Remember what happened in the final 24 hours last year? Informed and determined fans like you cast more than 1.5 million ballots at MLB.com that day, bringing the total ballots cast online in 2006 to more than 11 million, resulting in two lead changes in the online portion of the overall balloting program.
Voters showed enough love to Jason Bay of the host Pirates that he leaped right into the No. 1 National League outfield spot, and Pudge Rodriguez of the Tigers overtook Jason Varitek of the Red Sox for the right to start behind the plate for the American League. Magglio Ordonez of the Tigers leaped from fourth to second among American League outfielders in the final update posted earlier this week, and something equally significant could be happening in the starter standings right now on the MLB.com servers as voting grows really intense to determine starting lineups.
For those who come to San Francisco
Summertime will be a love-in there
In the streets of San Francisco
Gentle people with flowers in their hair
Whether you are going to San Francisco to watch the All-Star Game or not, you are entitled to submit up to 25 online ballots to send the right people out to the love-in. It's time to use 'em or lose 'em. All of the evidence is in, nearly a full half-season worth of baseball. You have used the "Compare Stats" feature on the ballot application, easily sorting players' stats. It's time to show some big love. Once the clock hits midnight out east, the tabulation process begins, and then it will be time to wait.
The AL and NL rosters will be revealed on TBS for the first time with the 2007 Major League Baseball All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Chevrolet, scheduled for 4 p.m. ET on Sunday. That show also will reveal the five nominees per league for the Monster All-Star Game Final Vote, giving you the chance to vote from Sunday night through next Thursday night to determine the 32nd and final roster spots for each league.
Who deserves some last-minute love? You decide. It's your PDA and here is one last look at who's going to start unless the voters make a change:
First base: David Ortiz, Red Sox
There's no designated hitter this year with the NL park, but Boston listed Big Papi as its candidate at first. Fans collectively have no issue with it, as he was about 750,000 votes in front of Minnesota's Justin Morneau, the reigning AL MVP. Note that Ortiz is the only player for a so-far dominant Boston club that is in starting position as of the latest update.
Second base: Placido Polanco, Tigers
Fans showed him plenty of love after that first weekly voting update, bumping him past Robinson Cano of the Yankees possibly for keeps. Cano remains in second, 304,005 votes behind.
Shortstop: Derek Jeter, Yankees
With most precincts reporting, MLB.com is going to call this one. The captain goes to his eighth All-Star Game. Carlos Guillen of the Tigers, arguably more deserving based on statistical comparison and even team performance, would have to make up some 1.25 million votes in the last 24 hours. If that happens, this would be even bigger than the 1967 Summer of Love.
Third base: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
With most precincts reporting, MLB.com is going to call this one even more emphatically. A-Rod leads Mike Lowell of the Red Sox by the approximate distance of Fenway Park to San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, where they wore flowers in their hair in 1967. Rodriguez will be wearing a New Era cap in the field and a helmet at the plate.
Catcher: Pudge Rodriguez, Tigers
Will the tables be turned on him this time, or will the Tigers' leader be selected for a remarkable 14th Midsummer Classic? He leads Jorge Posada by about a quarter-million votes.
Outfield: Vlad Guerrero, Angels; Magglio Ordonez, Tigers; Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
Manny was second a week ago and Ichiro was third. But Ramirez has 1,386,522 votes, not far behind 1,409,762 for Seattle's perennial All-Star. Torii Hunter of the Twins is knocking at the door with 1,085,445.
First base: Prince Fielder, Brewers
It was fairly amazing to see Fielder stretch his lead over Albert Pujols last week, given the latter's history of being a hugely popular online-ballot hero. One more homer and Fielder matches his total of 28 struck in his entire rookie season last year. Like the song said:
All across the nation such a strange vibration
People in motion
There's a whole generation with a new explanation
People in motion people in motion
Second base: Chase Utley, Phillies
Look up and down the NL leaderboard and you can see a whole generation with a new explanation, all right. Add Utley to the mix. He's more than 300,000 votes up on Jeff Kent of the Dodgers.
Shortstop: Jose Reyes, Mets
Lots of people in New York love this guy. He has stolen 38 bases, and they chant his first name all the time at Shea. Nevertheless, another anti-establishment youngster named J.J. Hardy of the Brewers is pretty close behind. If he gets enough love on this final day, it could get really interesting at shortstop. Reyes has 1,365,011 votes, Hardy 1,152,337.
Third base: David Wright, Mets
Another Met who gets mad love at home. A case certainly could be made that Miguel Cabrera of the Marlins deserves even more when it comes to the All-Star vote. Cabrera has generally better numbers, and in the final update was trailing 1,424,927 to 1,142,304. Do they even know it's summer in Miami, where every day is like summertime? Will there be enough love left?
Catcher: Russell Martin, Dodgers
One of the real breakout players of 2007, Martin has 13 steals to go along with a .294 average, eight homers, 49 RBIs and a classic catch he made while falling into the stands. He leads with 1,290,950 votes, and Paul Lo Duca of the Mets will have to make up 213,114 votes if he wants to repeat his 2006 starting gig.
Outfield: Carlos Beltran, Mets; Ken Griffey Jr., Reds; Alfonso Soriano, Cubs
The big question is whether Barry Bonds of the Giants will get enough love from his own people in San Francisco and push his way into the starting three for a 14th All-Star Game selection. Bonds was 119,158 votes behind Soriano at last count.
The 78th Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which will determine home-field advantage in the 2007 World Series, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, 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. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game in addition to its other live coverage from San Francisco. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of all festivities surrounding the All-Star Game.
Right now, it is your final opportunity to decide who goes there to start the most traditional of all All-Star Games. It's time to celebrate a new Summer of Love.
For those who come to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you come to San Francisco
Summertime will be a love-in there
Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.