Red Sox reigning in All-Star vote totals
Five of nine AL starters in New York could well be from Boston
Is it too soon to think about some house-squatters invading the Bronx in a month?
Not just any house, but the House Built by Babe Ruth. Yankee Stadium will host a seminal 79th All-Star Game on July 15, and there are no signs that the American League's starting lineup will not be dominated by Boston Red Sox.
As reflected in the fourth weekly update of voting announced on Monday, Red Sox continue to lead at five of the nine positions listed on the ballot.
Factor in that Terry Francona, the manager of the defending World Series champions, will have run of the home dugout, and one begins to muse about the tenor of the Midsummer Classic night.
All-Star crowds tend to suspend partisan feelings in favor of league solidarity. But these, after all, will be Boston arch enemies. Will the Yankee Stadium crowd be able to bring itself to cheer for the favorites of Red Sox Nation against the National Leaguers?
The Red Sox's intent to crash one of Yankee Stadium's biggest farewell parties is only reinforced by the latest summary of online and paper balloting.
Catching leader Jason Varitek has a growing fight on his hands with hard-charging Joe Mauer of the Twins, as his lead has dwindled to a mere 41,000, but Boston's other position pacesetters solidified their leads.
First baseman Kevin Youkilis remained 290,000 votes ahead of Justin Morneau, also of Minnesota.
At second base, Dustin Pedroia maintained an edge of 211,000 votes over Ian Kinsler of the Rangers.
David Ortiz not only opened up a lead of more than 700,000 on Hideki Matsui, but held on to the distinction of being the overall leader with 1,605,660 punchouts or clicks.
Manny Ramirez continues to top the outfielders' list with 1,539,753 votes, although relentless runner-up Josh Hamilton (1,352,372) of Texas keeps it from being a runaway; the Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki rounds out the trio of front-runners for a spot in the starting outfield.
By comparison, the All-Star host Yankees have staged a modest ballot-box showing. Third baseman Alex Rodriguez and shortstop Derek Jeter continue to lead at their positions and, although they are the only top-dog Yankees, ironically boast the biggest vote leads.
At the hot corner, Rodriguez (1,481,875) leads runner-up Mike Lowell of Boston by 717,000.
Jeter's edge over Texas' Michael Young is slightly bigger, at 718,000.
Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times with the Monster 2008 All-Star Game Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 club sites until Wednesday, July 2 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Starting rosters will be announced during the 2008 All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Chevrolet on TBS on Sunday, July 6. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the Monster 2008 All-Star Final Vote at MLB.com.
And the voting doesn't end there. Fans will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet at the All-Star Game via the Monster 2008 All-Star Game MVP vote at MLB.com.
The most starters the rival Red Sox have ever placed in a Yankee Stadium All-Star lineup is three, in 1977, when catcher Carlton Fisk, shortstop Rick Burleson and center fielder Carl Yastrzemski started up the middle.
Of the current Boston leaders, the one in the most tenuous position is clearly Varitek, who is campaigning for his first berth since being named the starter in 2005, his second year of selection. Mauer was a first-time All-Star in 2006 on his way to becoming the first catcher to ever lead the AL in hitting.
Overall, there was barely a ripple of change across the AL leader boards.
The top five remained unchanged at seven of the positions, including outfielders. But there were some newcomers and some slight movements.
At third base, Chicago's Joe Crede edged up to No. 3 with Detroit's Miguel Cabrera slipping to No. 4, while Hank Blalock hit the board at No. 5, nudging out Scott Rolen.
The White Sox's A.J. Pierzynski cracked the standings at No. 5 among catchers, ousting Victor Martinez, the Cleveland catcher who underwent elbow surgery last week and is expected to be out until early August.
Johnny Damon, seventh among outfielders last week, inched up to No. 6, or one place for each of the hits he collected in his memorable game at the Stadium a week ago Saturday.
The biggest move on the entire board, however, was made by Texas outfielder Milton Bradley, who shot from No. 13 to No. 8.
Although Ramirez and Hamilton appear to have reached the luxury of being locks, the race for the final starting outfield berth shapes up as an intense run to the voting wire.
All-Star perennial Suzuki trails Hamilton by nearly a half-million and is being pursued by a quartet of players, each of whom is within striking distance of him. The Angels' Vladimir Guerrero trails by a very manageable 145,000, and three others are within 144,000 of Vlad.
The 79th All-Star Game will be the fourth All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium and, overall, the eighth in New York City. The Polo Grounds held the game in 1934 and 1942; Ebbets Field was the site in 1949; and Shea Stadium hosted the 1964 tilt.
The Midsummer Classic, helping celebrate Yankee Stadium's final season, will be televised nationally by FOX, 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.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.