Longoria maintaining Final Vote lead
Rays third baseman has slight edge over Dye of White Sox
NEW YORK -- Normally the computer screen in the Rays' clubhouse is set up for the players to check out how many tickets they have arranged for family and friends.
Tuesday afternoon's view of the screen displayed the Final Vote ballot, so Rays players could vote for Evan Longoria if they chose to do so.
After two days of fan balloting in the Monster 2008 All-Star Game Final Vote on MLB.com, Longoria continues to lead for the final spot on the American League All-Star team, maintaining a slight lead over Jermaine Dye of the White Sox, with Jason Giambi of the Yankees, Brian Roberts of the Orioles and Jose Guillen of the Royals close behind.
"I just keep voting for him," Rays catcher Shawn Riggans said. "I've told all my family and friends back home to keep voting for him. All the guys in the clubhouse are talking about voting for him. I think the guy deserves it. I think he's one of the better players in the league already.
"He's really helped out our team. Just throughout the league, I've seen the other players play and I've seen him play, and I think he's as good or a lot better than the majority of guys out there. I think he deserves it."
The 79th Major League Baseball All-Star Game on July 15 at Yankee Stadium 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 that will also be available on XM Satellite Radio, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage.
Longoria could not be in a better place to receive recognition than New York, where the Rays began a two-game series against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. Tampa Bay spokesman Rick Vaughn said the Rays have been flooded with requests for interviews with Longoria, which should help his campaign. In addition, Rays telecasts will promote Longoria by using a crawl beneath the screen urging viewers to vote.
Principal owner Stuart Sternberg, who was at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, said he's voted for Longoria "20 times at least."
"I think it would be a great thing for him to come back [to Yankee Stadium for the All-Star Game] a week from tonight," Sternberg said. "And I think the fact he's mentioned with those guys after being in the Major Leagues such a short time is spectacular. What he's meant to this team, you can't measure."
The number of votes cast has nearly surpassed the overall record for total votes, 23.1 million, set in 2007. With 48 hours remaining in the voting period and ballots coming in at this fevered pace, each race is too close to call and no margin should be considered safe.
The seventh annual Monster All-Star Game Final Vote ballot commenced exclusively on MLB.com at 3 p.m. on Sunday, and the online voting will continue until 5 p.m. on Thursday.
Fans can cast their votes via their mobile phones by texting the word "Vote" to 36197 to receive the Monster All-Star Game Final Vote candidates. In Canada, fans should text the word "Vote" to 88555.
The Monster All-Star Game Final Vote program has seen nearly 80 million votes cast since its inception in 2002, including a record 23 million last year, when fans chose Hideki Okajima of the Boston Red Sox and Chris Young of the San Diego Padres. Previous winners of the Monster All-Star Game Final Vote include: A.J. Pierzynski (AL, 2006); Nomar Garciaparra (NL, 2006); Scott Podsednik (AL, 2005); Roy Oswalt (NL, 2005); Hideki Matsui (AL, 2004); Bobby Abreu (NL, 2004); Jason Varitek (AL, 2003); Geoff Jenkins (NL, 2003); Johnny Damon (AL, 2002); and Andruw Jones (NL, 2002).
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.