Help pick Midsummer Classic's star

Help pick Midsummer Classic's MVP

ST. LOUIS -- First there was the vote for starters, when fans shattered a record by casting 223.5 million votes and 17.8 million ballots for the 16 starting position players via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Online Ballot.

Then there was the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote. Fans selected Shane Victorino of the Phillies and Brandon Inge of the Tigers for the 33rd roster spots, and did so in unprecedented fashion by casting a record 68.6 million votes for the 10 nominees.

Now you have your next opportunity, because it is time for the 80th All-Star Game tonight at Busch Stadium and you can start voting again.

This time it is the seventh annual opportunity to help decide the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet, by participating in the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint MVP Vote on MLB.com. Last year's choice was J.D. Drew, who homered and reached base four times before Michael Young hit a 15th-inning sacrifice fly that scored Justin Morneau with the winning run for the American League.

Yes, we remember it well: Yankee fans applauding a Red Sox player, even happy that he won an MVP in their park. What will it be like this time? It's partly up to you.

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

The online fan vote again will count for 20 percent, with the other 80 percent coming on-site 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 MVP 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. The 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. Who will be your choice for the MVP? Follow the game closely, because you have another important role in online balloting.

It is the 47th anniversary of the All-Star Game MVP. 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 of the Angels
2004: Alfonso Soriano of the Rangers
2005: Miguel Tejada of the Orioles
2006: Michael Young of the Rangers.
2007: Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners.
2008: Drew of the Red Sox.

"I don't think it's hard to believe," Drew said after receiving his trophy last July. "I've always had confidence in my ability. It just took me a little while to put it together last year, get some experience in the American League."

"It's an [All-Star Game] that I'll never forget," Ichiro said after winning his 2007 honor. "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."

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 that league 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 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game 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, while 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.