Two NL All-Star races too close to call
Braun nearing Fukudome; Ramirez holds edge on Tejada
With the polls set to close on Wednesday night, two National League All-Star campaigns are too close to call.
Milwaukee's Ryan Braun climbed to within 33,000 votes of Chicago's Kosuke Fukudome for the third starting spot in the National League outfield, while at shortstop, Florida's Hanley Ramirez held the edge over Houston's Miguel Tejada.
Most of the other NL ballot leaders -- Houston first baseman Lance Berkman, Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley, Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones, Chicago catcher Geovany Soto, Chicago outfielder Alfonso Soriano and Cincinnati outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. -- remained in line to start the July 15 Midsummer Classic.
Griffey moved past Fukudome by roughly 133,000 votes to take over second place in the outfield voting behind Soriano.
Griffey, a 13-time All-Star selection who was the NL's leading vote-getter last season with 2,916,818 votes, has been elected by fans to start the All-Star Game more times than any player except Cal Ripken Jr. (17) and Rod Carew (15). Griffey has received 46,314,772 votes since the start of his Major League career in 1989, the most of any player in the history of fan balloting.
Ramirez, who regained the lead from Tejada last week by 70,664 votes, padded his margin by approximately 100,000 in the past seven days, according the voting totals released by Major League Baseball on Monday. If Ramirez can hold on, he would become the second Marlins player to win fan balloting. Gary Sheffield was elected by the fans to start at third base in 1993, though Sheffield began that season with San Diego.
Chicago's Ryan Theriot is within 200,000 votes of Tejada.
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 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, '60 and '77; the Polo Grounds held the game in '34 and '42; Ebbets Field was the site in '49; and Shea Stadium hosted the '64 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 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. 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.
Utley's 2,645,027 votes are the most of any player in either league. No Phillies player has finished with the most votes since fans were given back the vote in 1970.
Utley leads Mark DeRosa of the Cubs by roughly 1.5 million votes, with Florida's Dan Uggla, who as of Monday morning was tied with Utley for the Major League lead with 23 home runs, some 200,000 votes behind DeRosa.
Berkman widened his lead at first base to roughly 700,000 votes, but this week, he leads Albert Pujols after the Cardinals slugger edged passed Chicago's Derrek Lee for second place by fewer than 25,000 votes.
Jones increased his advantage over Aramis Ramirez of the Cubs to more than one million votes. David Wright of the Mets and Bill Hall of the Brewers are in third and fourth place, respectively.
Soto padded his margin at catcher and now leads Brian McCann of Atlanta by more than 650,000. Jason Kendall of Milwaukee and Yadier Molina of St. Louis have each drawn more than one million votes to crack the top four at the position.
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.