Best of veterans, youngsters at Classic
Mix of MLB's seasoned pros, bright new stars to be on display
SAN FRANCISCO -- This year's All-Star teams, now set to represent the National and American Leagues in the annual Midsummer Classic at AT&T Park in San Francisco on July 10, offer the best and the brightest of Major League Baseball's veteran players and its talented younger set.From Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Bonds to Prince Fielder, David Wright and Russell Martin, it's the best of the old and the new. Rodriguez, the third baseman who is having a career season for the Yankees, was by far the top overall vote-getter with 3,890,515. "It's refreshing and great to see, and very humbling for me to be the No. 1 vote-getter in all of Major League Baseball," Rodriguez said. "To me, that's always been one of my goals. As a kid, I never missed an All-Star Game; it's such a fun game. I really enjoy it. Right now, it has tremendous ramifications with [the winning league getting] home-field advantage in the World Series, and it's something that's a tremendous privilege receiving these votes." Griffey, the oft-injured 37-year-old Reds right fielder, paced the NL at 2,986,818 and has been voted in for all 13 of his All-Star appearances. ""It's always special from the fans," said Griffey, who's just 15 homers shy of becoming the sixth player in MLB history to reach the 600 plateau. "They're here every day, day in and day out. For them to pick me is a great honor." Bonds, nearing 43 years old and having a historic year as the left fielder of the Giants, concluded action on Sunday with 750 homers, just five behind Hank Aaron's all-time MLB mark of 755, and will be starting for the NL in his home park. He overtook Alfonzo Soriano of the Cubs in the late balloting to snare the third and final starting NL outfield spot by 122,878 votes. For his part, Bonds was almost speechless after his team's 13-0 home victory over the Diamondbacks. "I'm at a loss for words right now," he said after reaching base 10 of the 13 times he hit in the three-game series. "I'm surprised. I thought I played good enough to make the team, but not as a starter. I'm having a big old party Monday [before the game]. It'll be fun. I just can't say thanks enough to the fans here in San Francisco." In a record vote, 18.5 million ballots were cast, with 11.8 million fans voting online via MLB.com -- three million recorded in the final 48 hours before the polls closed at 11:59 p.m. ET this past Thursday. It's the 11th appearance for Rodriguez, the 14th for Bonds and the 13th for Griffey. It's the first appearances each for Fielder and Martin, the Brewers' first baseman and Dodgers' catcher, respectively, and the second for Wright, the Mets' third baseman. "I don't think it was a goal, but it's the results of hard work," said Fielder, who will be the first member of the Brewers to start at first base since Cecil Cooper did it for the AL in 1982. "I knew that if I worked hard, hopefully one day I would be able to do it." The starting eight voted to the NL squad is far younger than its AL counterparts: Joining Griffey and Bonds in the outfield is Carlos Beltran, the center fielder for the Mets, who had three players voted to the team. Around the horn is Fielder at first, Chase Utley of the Phillies at second, Jose Reyes of the Mets at shortstop and Wright at third. Martin, in just his second season, is behind the plate. Overall, four Mets made the team, including reliever Billy Wagner. "I'll be very proud to wear a New York Mets uniform in the All-Star game again," said Wright, who's starting at third base for the second consecutive season. "I'm thankful our fans have given us the chance to represent the club in San Francisco. It will be great to have this kind of representation for a great event. And I'll be really happy to look to my left and see Jose there this year. I know now disappointed he was last year when he couldn't play." Over in the AL, the defending league champion Tigers placed three starters on the team and the Yankees had two. Shortstop Derek Jeter joined Rodriguez on the left side of the infield and is making his eighth start. Around the diamond, David Ortiz of the Red Sox is at first base and Placido Polanco of the Tigers is at second. The outfield is made up of old standbys Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners and Vladimir Guerrero of the Angels, with Magglio Ordonez of the Tigers making his first start in his 12th big-league season. Ivan Rodriguez of the Tigers is behind the plate, making his 14th appearance, with 12 starts. For Polanco, it will be his first All-Star appearance, coming in his 11th season.
NL manager Tony La Russa of the defending World Series champion Cardinals has only one of his players -- Albert Pujols -- on the team, while AL manager Jim Leyland of the Tigers has five (Rodriguez, Ordonez, Polanco, Justin Verlander and Carlos Guillen)."I feel great because I did not make one Tigers selection," Leyland said. "I did not have to. Not that I wouldn't have, but I didn't have to. They were voted by the fans or the players. Every Tigers player that's on this team was an automatic guy. It had nothing to do with me picking my own players. That couldn't have been better for me." The Red Sox have five players on the team, with Ortiz being joined by third baseman Mike Lowell, outfielder Manny Ramirez, starter Josh Beckett and closer Jonathan Papelbon.
After the fans made their decisions, the players and managers filled out the rest of the teams.
For the NL, the pitching staff includes Jake Peavy and Trevor Hoffman (the all-time saves leader) from the Padres, Ben Sheets and Francisco Cordero from the NL Central-leading Brewers, Brad Penny and Takashi Saito from the Dodgers, John Smoltz from the Braves, Jose Valverde from the Diamondbacks, Wagner from the Mets, Brian Fuentes from the Rockies and Cole Hamels from the Phillies.
Rounding out the rest of the team are catcher Brian McCann of the Braves; first basemen Pujols of the Cardinals, Dmitri Young of the Nationals and Derrek Lee of the Cubs; second basemen Freddy Sanchez of the Pirates and Orlando Hudson of the D-backs; shortstop J.J. Hardy of the Brewers; third baseman Miguel Cabrera of the Marlins; and outfielders Soriano of the Cubs, Carlos Lee of the Astros, Matt Holliday of the Rockies and Aaron Rowand of the Phillies.
Over in the AL, the pitching staff includes Verlander of the Tigers, Beckett and Papelbon of the Red Sox, John Lackey and Francisco Rodriguez of the Angels, Dan Haren of the A's, Bobby Jenks of the White Sox, Gil Meche of the Royals, J.J. Putz of the Mariners, C.C. Sabathia of the Indians and Johan Santana of the Twins.
Rounding out the rest of the team are catchers Jorge Posada of the Yankees and Victor Martinez of the Indians; first baseman Justin Morneau of the Twins; second baseman Brian Roberts of the Orioles; shortstops Guillen and Michael Young of the Rangers (the MVP of last year's All-Star Game at Pittsburgh); Lowell of the Red Sox, and outfielders Carl Crawford of the Devil Rays, Torii Hunter of the Twins, Ramirez of the Red Sox, Alex Rios of the Blue Jays and Grady Sizemore of the Indians.
"It's exciting to go and be a member of this American League team," said Beckett, who has an 11-2 record and could well be the AL starter. "It's an exciting time. It's a big deal and I am really excited. It is going to be fun and I am looking forward to it."
Each team will also add one additional player, elected by fans at MLB.com. Now in its sixth year, the Monster.com 2007 All-Star 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 Chevrolet, and continues until 6 p.m. ET on Thursday. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
In the NL, the Final Vote candidates are all pitchers: Roy Oswalt of the Astros, Carlos Zambrano of the Cubs, Chris Young of the Padres, Tom Gorzelanny of the Pirates and Brandon Webb of the Diamondbacks. Likewise over in the AL, it's all hurlers: Jeremy Bonderman of the Tigers, Kelvim Escobar of the Angels, Roy Halladay of the Blue Jays, Hideki Okajima of the Red Sox and Pat Neshek of the Twins.
There are two ways for fans to vote for the 2007 All-Star Final Vote -- online now at MLB.com, or on-the-go from their cell phones. Fans also can text the word "VOTE" to 36197 to have the All-Star Final Vote candidates sent to your phone. To vote for a specific player, simply reply with your choice. Whether celebrating the Fourth of July or Canada Day, fans will have the freedom to vote from wherever they are. Standard rate text messaging fees apply -- please check with your mobile carrier for details. Fans can get the mobile ballot now. In Canada, fans should text the word "VOTE" to 88555.
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 via the Monster 2007 All-Star Game MVP Vote on MLB.com.
The 78th 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. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.