Will Toronto slugger Jose Bautista be the only player in the American League's starting lineup who is not part of a Yankees-Red Sox rivalry? Was there enough of a collective uprising around Major League Baseball to break up that AL East voting party?
Does Derek Jeter, probably a new addition to the 3,000-hit club by then, make his 11th consecutive All-Star appearance -- and sixth in a row? Or did Cleveland's Asdrubal Cabrera get enough support to make his first All-Star start?
Once both rosters are announced, which players will be revealed as your candidates for the 34th man on each squad? Yes, it also will be time to start a wild week of voting and campaigning with the 10th annual All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint.
The MLB.com polls closed at 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday, bringing a frenetic finish to the largest All-Star Game balloting program in sports. Entering the final week of online-only voting, fans at MLB.com and the 30 club sites had cast 18.5 million ballots and 250 million votes, surpassing the all-time online record for each from 2009 (17.7 million; 223.4 million).
Now throw in the last week of intense digital voting, and those 20 million Firestone paper ballots distributed at 30 Major League and 100 Minor League ballparks, and those retail ballots sponsored by Scotts at more than 1,700 Lowes stores across the U.S., and you have a final tally that is astronomical and potentially translating into surprise results.
Balloting started way back in April, a few weeks after the games began. Clubs informed MLB of their candidates to be listed. Voting raged on, and now here we are. Who are the 16 starting position players and the AL's designated hitter? It's time to find out.
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 AL manager Ron Washington and NL manager Bruce Bochy, in conjunction with MLB.
The Player Ballot could hold extra significance this year, because of the situation at first base in the NL. Should Pujols be announced as the starter based on fan balloting, rules state that he would be replaced as a starter by whichever person other than him finishes highest on the Player Ballot at that position. In other words, it could be up to players, rather than fans, to determine who starts at first at Chase Field.
The 2011 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show will be hosted by Matt Winer in Atlanta, along with 19-time AL All-Star and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.; six-time AL All-Star and Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley; and three-time AL All-Star David Wells. The show will feature segments with Bochy of the Giants and Washington of the Rangers.
MLB.com will provide complete, must-see coverage of the All-Star teams, including high-quality video and analysis of both leagues' rosters, immediately following the announcement. And, of course, the way of life for your next week.
The Final Vote began in 2002, and once again it returns to give baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Bochy and Washington give you the five choices per league, and balloting continues until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 7. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter, with daily balloting updates along the way.
There will be an extra treat for fans who participate in the Final Vote. If you are not a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you are eligible to receive a 10-day free trial of MLB.TV from July 9-19. If you are a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you will receive a 15-percent discount to the MLB.com Shop. MLB.com will send an e-mail on July 11 to all Final Vote voters with instructions on how to redeem the applicable offer.
For the final phase of All-Star Game voting, fans will be asked to help decide the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2011 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint. That voting will take place on MLB.com during the Midsummer Classic.
The 82nd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, 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 Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.