Voting ends, but All-Star drama far from over

Voting ends, but All-Star drama far from over

Well done.

For more than two months, Major League Baseball fans faithfully voted up to 25 times with the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot and punched those paper ballots at Major League and Minor League ballparks as well as some retail outlets.

Now you can kick back, catch your breath, watch some baseball, and then tune into TBS for the 2012 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Taco Bell at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. American and National League rosters will be revealed during that one-hour show, setting the stage for the 83rd All-Star Game on July 10 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.

With many of the races undetermined entering the final week of online balloting, fans cast their votes at rates never seen before in the All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot program, including three of the four highest one-day totals ever set the final three days of voting -- 4.2 million ballots cast on Thursday, 3.9 million on Wednesday and 2.8 million on Tuesday. Fans also set a new MLB.com single-day mark with 42.5 million votes cast on Thursday.

Overall during the All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot program, 391.2 million votes from 34.9 million ballots were cast. Both figures were the largest totals recorded in the history of online balloting at MLB.com, surpassing the previous records established in 2011.

Look for the launch of the 2012 All-Star Game Final Vote presented by Firestone toward the end of the Selection Show. We'll celebrate the 10th anniversary of that electrifying next step in the overall ballot process, with managers Ron Washington of the AL and Tony La Russa of the NL each giving you five candidates from which to choose for the last spot on each roster.

The AL All-Star team will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the NL squad will have eight fan-elected starters. 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 Washington and La Russa, in conjunction with MLB.

Host Matt Winer will be joined in the TBS studio during the Selection Show by analysts Dennis Eckersley, Cal Ripken Jr. and David Wells to introduce the teams and provide analysis on the selections. MLB.com will feature complete All-Star team coverage with high-quality video and analysis of both teams.

As of the last official updates posted at 2 p.m. ET, the closest races included the NL outfield and third base where Giants teammates Melky Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval again made pushes on Wednesday for starting spots with 125 percent and 138 percent more online votes, respectively, than leaders Ryan Braun of the Brewers and David Wright of the Mets.

Did Robinson Cano of the Yankees or Ian Kinsler of the Rangers survive that dramatic race at AL second base? Did that hot longball run keep Toronto's Jose Bautista ahead of Adam Jones of Baltimore and Nelson Cruz of Texas in their bid to join frontrunners Josh Hamilton of Texas and Curtis Granderson of New York in that starting AL outfield?

Buster Posey of the Giants or Yadier Molina of the Cardinals behind the plate in the NL? Who was your pick? In the latest update, Posey led with 3,335,982 votes, not far ahead of Molina's 3,119,530. Chooch fans were still lobbying for their guys, as Carlos Ruiz of the Phillies had 2,448,942.

Is it too early for Bryce Harper? The Nationals' rookie outfielder has created a lot of buzz and speculation in his relatively short MLB service time. If he is not announced as a starter or reserve, who knows, he could show up on your Final Ballot menu.

We'll also find out whether Hamilton broke Bautista's All-Star vote record of 7,454,753, set last year. Hamilton was on pace to top that, leading the Majors with 7,310,824 votes as of the last update.

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 Lowe's stores across the U.S., and you have a final tally that is astronomical and potentially translating into surprise results.

All of this will become clear in the TBS show, now that the largest All-Star Game balloting program in sports has concluded its giant first phase. And one of the best things about that show is that it just gets things rolling again for you, the voting public.

And the voting won't end with the Final Vote. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

The 83rd All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and Sirius XM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com or royals.com/asg.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.