Fans can vote for All-Star Game MVP

Fans can vote for All-Star Game MVP

NEW YORK -- First there was the vote for starters. Fans shattered a record by casting more than 41 million votes at MLB.com in the final 24 hours, bringing the overall online total in 2008 to 214.7 million votes from 16.5 million ballots.

Then there was the Monster 2008 All-Star Game Final Vote. Fans selected Evan Longoria of Tampa Bay and Corey Hart of Milwaukee for the 32nd roster spots, and they did so in unprecedented fashion by casting 47.8 million votes over four days -- more than twice as many as the year before.

Now it is time for the 79th All-Star Game Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, the event that moved you to vote so enthusiastically in the first place, and the good news is that you get to go right back to an online ballot to make another big difference.

This time it is the sixth annual opportunity to help decide the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award, presented by Chevrolet, by participating in the Monster 2008 All-Star Game MVP Vote on MLB.com. Last year's choice was Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners, following a 3-for-3 night at San Francisco where he hit an inside-the-park homer, and the identity of this year's winner awaits.

You can begin casting votes for the award starting with the sixth inning, by which time some strong candidates will have emerged. The voting will continue until the MVP is announced immediately following the end of the game.

The online fan vote again will count for 20 percent, with the other 80 percent coming onsite from the Baseball Writers Association of America and the announcers from the All-Star Game's three broadcast rights holders: FOX Sports, ESPN Radio and MLB International.

Immediately following the conclusion of the All-Star Game, the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player will receive the Arch Ward Trophy, which was first presented in 1962 as a tribute to the man who founded the All-Star Game in 1933. That first presentation went to Leon Wagner of the Los Angeles Angels and to Maury Wills of the Los Angeles Dodgers, because two Midsummer Classics per year were played in those days.

It is the final and important step in a remarkable run of fan participation in this All-Star Game. Now, who will be your choice for the MVP? Follow the game closely, because you have another important role in online balloting.

It is the 46th anniversary of the All-Star Game MVP, dating back to that summer of '62 when Wills of the Dodgers and Wagner of the Angels were each named MVP in that year's two All-Star Games. Other legends who have won this award have included Willie Mays, Brooks Robinson, Carl Yastrzemski, Frank Robinson, Gary Carter, Roger Clemens, Ken Griffey Jr. and Sr., Bo Jackson and Cal Ripken Jr. Of course, there was no fan participation in any of their selections.

These are the players who have won the award since the fan vote was factored in:

2003: Garret Anderson, Angels
2004: Alfonso Soriano, Rangers
2005: Miguel Tejada, Orioles
2006: Michael Young, Rangers
2007: Suzuki, Mariners

"It's an [All-Star Game] that I'll never forget," Ichiro said after winning last year's MVP award. "The past six years, I never had an All-Star Game when I really thought I gave it my all. So, I'm really happy. It was a fun All-Star Game."

"I'm not going to lie," Young said after receiving his trophy in 2006 at PNC Park. "This is a pretty big highlight in my baseball career. I think everyone dreams of having a big All-Star Game. Even coming to the All-Star Game is humbling enough, but to be in this situation now where I have an All-Star Game MVP is pretty exciting."

"I'm just happy, I'm really happy that they gave me the honor," Tejada said after fans helped grant him the honor the previous year in Detroit. "I just want to work harder and harder every day in everything that I do. When I get an award like that, my family is more proud of me. So this makes me more proud and work harder because my family is really happy."

The real question is, will you vote for a National Leaguer? The last time a player from that league was All-Star MVP was Mike Piazza in 1996. Of course, that's the last time the Senior Circuit actually won this annual showcase.

Whichever player you choose, just choose carefully. It's a grand tradition, and these days you are a part of it. History awaits your verdict. Given the way online voting has turned into an absolute happening this summer, it will be interesting to see what kind of participation there is during this Midsummer Classic.

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 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage that will also be available on XM Satellite Radio, and MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage.

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