Rowand in need of a Final Vote push

Rowand in need of a Final Vote push

NEW YORK -- Part of the strategy for any candidate in any election is giving voters a chance to learn about him or her.

If things truly worked that way in the Monster 2008 All-Star Game Final Vote, Giants center fielder Aaron Rowand would have a strong chance of winning. Currently, he trails Milwaukee's Corey Hart, New York's David Wright and Philadelphia's Pat Burrell in the balloting. Carlos Lee of the Astros is in fifth.

Rowand is more than just a baseball player. He's a baseball fan, and has been that way since he can remember.

"My entire life," he said.

So if voters want somebody who cares about representing the National League, Rowand's a good choice, in addition to being a good player. He took a .300 average into Tuesday night's series opener against the New York Mets.

Unlike some, who regard the All-Star Game as a glamorized exhibition, Rowand considers it meaningful.

"Especially because [the winning league gets] the home-field advantage in the World Series," he said. "That's big."

Rowand learned exactly how big when he was named to his first All-Star team last year as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies and played for St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa, who piloted the NL squad.

"Tony made it very clear to everybody on the team how important it was," Rowand said. "I think the players take it to heart. With the National League not having won for a while, it means that much more."

Rowand, who went 0-for-2 in last year's Midsummer Classic, was thrilled by the experience.

"It was everything I thought it was going to be," he said. "It was an honor to be named to an All-Star Game with a bunch of the guys around the league who were considered the best in the game. It's something that will always hold a special place in my heart."

Now in its seventh year, the Monster 2008 All-Star Game Final Vote gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Chevy, and continues until 2 p.m. PT on Thursday. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.

There are two ways for fans to cast their 2008 All-Star Game Final Vote -- online at MLB.com, or on the go from their cell phones. Fans also can text the word "VOTE" to 36197 to have the list of candidates sent to their phones. To vote for a specific player, simply reply with your choice. In Canada, fans should text the word "VOTE" to 88555. Standard text-messaging rates apply -- please check with your mobile carrier for details.

The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet through the Monster 2008 All-Star Game MVP Vote on MLB.com during the All-Star Game on July 15.

The 79th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD, and around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 5 p.m.. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, and MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.

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