All-Star Votebook: Everybody's pastime
Ballots, candidates and sponsors bring international flavor
The globalization of Major League Baseball is exploding, and all you have to do to figure that out is look at the ballot for the 76th All-Star Game, which will be played July 12 at Comerica Park in Detroit.
Seventy-seven position players who were born in foreign countries are on the ballot, and quite an All-Star team can be made using only those players.
Fittingly, baseball fans in seven foreign countries and territories have the opportunity to vote for their favorite players and help decide who will start the All-Star Game.
Through the MLB International All-Star Balloting Program, which began Sunday, MLB and its international corporate sponsors will distribute more than six million All-Star Game ballots in Canada, Curaçao, the Dominican Republic, Japan, Panama, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.
In addition, international sponsors will send fans from participating countries to Detroit for the game as part of All-Star sweepstakes programs.
Major League Baseball All-Star Game ballots are available in Curaçao and Panama for the first time ever. In addition, fans can access the 2005 MLB All-Star Game ballot online in both Spanish and Japanese right here at MLB.com.
The incredible tradition of baseball in Caribbean countries like the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Mexico and Cuba are well-known, and those nations are well-represented on the ballots.
But there's also Colombia (Edgar Renteria and Orlando Cabrera), Panama (Carlos Lee), Curaçao (Andruw Jones), South Korea (Hee-Seop Choi), Canada (Justin Morneau, Larry Walker, Corey Koskie) and the Virgin Islands (Calvin Pickering).
And who can forget Japan, which has spawned now-perennial All-Star participants Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui and has a new suitor in White Sox rookie Tadahito Iguchi?
Japanese and Spanish ballots have been in existence since 2002 and this year brings ballots to Atlanta Braves center fielder Jones' native land of Curaçao for the first time.
When the inaugural World Baseball Classic takes place next March, scouts and baseball executives will be turned on to even more international talent.
In other words, it's a world game and it'll be a world All-Star Game.
Here's an All-Star team of international position players based on their performances this season (statistics are through Sunday's games):
First base: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals, Dominican Republic.
Pujols is hitting .335 with 11 homers and 37 RBIs. Incredibly, he'd better start heating up soon if he's going to duplicate his first four big league seasons.
Second base: Alfonso Soriano, Texas Rangers, Dominican Republic.
Last year's top vote-getter and All-Star Game MVP looks like a lock to get back in the game. He's batting .271 with 11 homers and 26 RBIs.
Shortstop: Miguel Tejada, Baltimore Orioles, Dominican Republic.
Tejada, last year's Major League RBI champion, is on his way to challenging for that crown again. He's batting .328 with 11 homers and 40 RBIs.
Third base: Melvin Mora, Baltimore Orioles, Venezuela.
Mora is following up his breakout season of 2004 with pretty good numbers so far. He is batting .286 with nine homers and 24 RBIs.
Catcher: Ramon Hernandez, San Diego Padres, Venezuela.
He's hitting .301 with five homers and 21 RBIs and he's keeping the Padres' pitching staff together through a hot month of May that has them in first place in the NL West.
Outfield: Miguel Cabrera, Florida Marlins, Venezuela; Bobby Abreu, Philadelphia Phillies, Venezuela; Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners, Japan.
Cabrera is among the Major League leaders in batting average (.372) with eight homers and 30 RBIs; Abreu, one of the more underrated players in the game, is hitting .327 with 12 homers and 35 RBIs; Ichiro is having an "off" year by his own lofty standards, but he's still batting .322 with 30 runs scored and 14 stolen bases.
Designated hitter: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox, Dominican Republic.
Ortiz isn't setting the league on fire just yet, but he's still batting a respectable .285 with 10 homers and 30 RBIs.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.