Fans can help Roberts with Final Vote
O's second baseman seeking berth to third All-Star Game
BALTIMORE -- For months, Brian Roberts has been the only Oriole with any traction in the All-Star balloting. And if form holds true, the second baseman just may find himself in Yankee Stadium for his second straight All-Star berth. Roberts, a two-time All-Star, was selected as one of five candidates in the American League for the All-Star Game Final Vote.
Baltimore closer George Sherrill was named to the All-Star team by AL manager Terry Francona, and Roberts underlined his own candidacy on Sunday by cranking a home run, stealing two bases and scoring two runs.
"I don't know a whole lot about it except that I don't think I'll win," Roberts quipped after Baltimore's 11-10 loss to Texas. "You probably need to be playing at home and you probably need to be playing in a big market."
Fans will have the power to choose between Roberts and four other candidates -- Chicago's Jermaine Dye, New York's Jason Giambi, Kansas City's Jose Guillen and Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria -- for the AL's final slot. Roberts, the leadoff locomotive for Baltimore's surprising start, will certainly have the support of manager Dave Trembley.
"I hope everybody gets their machines out and votes for Roberts. He's deserving," Trembley said of his leadoff hitter after Sunday's game. "I'm going to get my son to help me."
Roberts, a switch-hitter, is batting .293 with seven home runs and 24 stolen bases in his first 84 games. Roberts set a team record with 50 doubles in 2004 and already has 32 this season, putting him on pace to break it. The infielder is leading the AL in doubles and triples (seven), putting him in line for an interesting double feat.
Still, he refused to campaign for the job or say what it would mean to be elected by the voting public.
"There's a lot of guys having good years," he said about the Final Vote. "It's not the end of the world [if I lose]."
"He's our catalyst," added expansive teammate Kevin Millar. "The bottom line is that B-Rob, to me, is one of the best, if not the best, leadoff hitter in the game. He does everything. He can hit from both sides of the plate. He steals bases, hits doubles and triples and can pop a ball out of the yard. Where he goes, we go. And he knows that."
Now in its seventh year, the Monster 2008 All-Star Game Final Vote gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Chevy and continues until 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 10. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
There are two ways for fans to vote for the 2008 All-Star Game Final Vote -- online now at MLB.com, or on-the-go from their cell phones. Fans also can text the word "VOTE" to 36197 to have the All-Star Final Vote candidates sent to your phone. To vote for a specific player, simply reply with your choice. In Canada, fans should text the word "VOTE" to 88555. Standard rate text messaging rates apply -- please check with your mobile carrier for details.
The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the Monster 2008 All-Star Game MVP Vote on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.
The 79th Major League Baseball All-Star Game 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.
Baltimore catcher Ramon Hernandez has been part of the Final Vote process before, and he said he can recall how nerve-wracking it is to see the vote totals pour in day-by-day throughout the climactic week.
"I think you've got to be at home to win," he said. "That's what happened to me when we flew out to Chicago. When you're at home, you've got a good chance because the fans might be voting in the stadium. But nobody's going to vote for you on the road. That's a great advantage when you're home. He might win it, but it's going to be tough."
Trade rumors dogged Roberts throughout the season, but Baltimore elected to hang onto him and has reaped the benefits of a surprising first half. As one of the longest-serving members, perhaps no Oriole is more suited to understand the circuitous journey the team has taken than Roberts, who has played through seven straight losing seasons with Baltimore.
Now, he's in position to see that drought end -- and perhaps to be recognized yet again for his efforts.
"I think the best players should get to play," Trembley said. "And it's got to be really tough for the manager and the Commissioner's office, to be fair. There are so many great players. Great players."
"[Roberts] was our only representative last year, and he's still got a chance to make it," said infield instructor Juan Samuel. "We've got George Sherrill, but it would be something good for Brian's resume to establish himself as an All-Star again."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.