Tejada has All-Star ballot competition
Astros shortstop being pursued by Ramirez, three others
Houston's Miguel Tejada is still clinging to the lead, but Florida's Hanley Ramirez and the three other shortstops chasing Tejada in the National League All-Star voting have narrowed the gap according to the latest update released Tuesday by Major League Baseball.
Tejada, the Most Valuable Player of the 2005 All-Star Game at Detroit, saw his lead over Ramirez trimmed from approximately 125,000 to 68,000. Chicago's Ryan Theriot is less than 60,000 votes behind Ramirez. Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins was 283,950 back of Tejada and in fifth place a week ago, but he jumped ahead of Jose Reyes of the Mets into fourth with 637,617 votes. Rollins, the reigning NL MVP, is just 257,180 behind Tejada and less than 190,000 behind Ramirez with 13 days remaining in the campaign.
The leaders at the other positions remained unchanged, with Tejada's teammate Lance Berkman leading at first base and Rollins' teammate Chase Utley continuing his hold on the top spot at second base. Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones, Chicago catcher Geovany Soto and outfielders Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome of the Cubs and Ken Griffey Jr. of Cincinnati are the other leaders.
The 79th Major League Baseball All-Star Game, being held at Yankee Stadium in its 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.
The Midsummer Classic, being played on July 15, will be the fourth held at Yankee Stadium and the eighth in New York City. The Yankees previously hosted the All-Star Game in 1939, 1960 and 1977; the Polo Grounds held the game in 1934 and 1942; Ebbets Field was the site in 1949; and Shea Stadium hosted the 1964 tilt.
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.
Tejada, a four-time All-Star when he played in the American League, is attempting to become the first player to start a Midsummer Classic at shortstop for both leagues. Leo Cardenas, Craig Reynolds and Tony Fernandez were All-Star shortstops in both leagues, but Tejada, who won the fan balloting at shortstop while with the Orioles three years ago, has an opportunity to be the first to start for both the AL and NL.
The outfield race remains close, as Milwaukee's Ryan Braun moved past Carlos Beltran of the Mets and Carlos Lee of the Astros to take over sole possession of fourth place, less than 200,000 behind Griffey. Lee dropped to fifth while Philadelphia's Pat Burrell moved to sixth from ninth.
Utley received close to half a million votes during the last seven days and now has 1,743,548, more than any candidate in either league. Utley's margin over Mark DeRosa of the Cubs is approximately 960,000.
Berkman padded his lead over Chicago's Derrek Lee by another 120,000 and now leads the Cubs first baseman by roughly 392,000 votes. Albert Pujols of St. Louis, Milwaukee's Prince Fielder and Philadelphia's Ryan Howard are the others in the top five at the position.
Jones widened his lead at third base to more than a half a million votes over Aramis Ramirez of the Cubs. David Wright of the Mets and Bill Hall of the Brewers are in third and fourth place, respectively.
Soto enjoys a similar lead over Brian McCann of Atlanta at catcher. Right behind McCann in the balloting are Yadier Molina of St. Louis, Jason Kendall of Milwaukee and last year's All-Star Game starter for the NL, Russell Martin of the Dodgers.
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.