Several Astros worthy of All-Star spots
Berkman, Matsui and Tejada among top vote-getters in NL
ST. LOUIS -- The Astros have played far more road games than home games so far this year, but that hasn't seemed to negatively affect All-Star balloting for several Houston players.
The first round of National League balloting updates, released on Wednesday, show that Lance Berkman has received the most votes of all NL first basemen, while shortstop Miguel Tejada and second baseman Kazuo Matsui rank second in the voting at their positions.
Berkman is ahead of St. Louis' Albert Pujols by the slimmest of margins -- 329,473 to 317,317.
"I'm glad that the Houston fans are out in force, because clearly, I'm not going to be getting votes from any other part of the country," Berkman said. "Come on, hometown fans."
Tejada is only about 12,000 votes behind front-runner Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins. Ramirez has 268,386 votes to Tejada's 256,613. The Mets' Jose Reyes is in third place with 237,800 votes.
Ty Wigginton ranks fourth at third base, J.R. Towles is fifth among catchers and three Astros outfielders rank among the top-15 at the positions: Carlos Lee (7th), Hunter Pence (10th) and Michael Bourn (15th).
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 7 p.m. CT.
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, 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.
In-stadium balloting at Minute Maid Park began May 2 and will run through June 25. Fans can also 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 10:59 p.m. CT. 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.
Astros manager Cecil Cooper hopes Houston fans stuff the ballot boxes in droves. He'd like to see Berkman and Tejada voted in as starters. Should that happen, it would be the first time two Houston players were voted to the starting lineup since Berkman and Jeff Kent in 2004. Before that, Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell were named starters in 1997.
"Those two guys [Berkman and Tejada] are deserving of starting," Cooper said. "They have been the catalyst. Miggy hasn't hit .330 since when, Oakland? People said he was in the twilight of his career and look what he's doing."
Tejada and Berkman have both been to four All-Star games. Tejada, whose most recent All-Star appearance occurred in 2006, thanked the fans for the vote support and said he'd be thrilled to represent the Astros at Yankee Stadium this year.
"For me right now, let's see how many games we can finish in first place, and after that, I would love to go and spend the three days with my teammates and the other players," Tejada said.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.