With three days left in voting for the 2007 All-Star Game, the Voix Pour Le Russell Campaign has done a great job to vault Dodger catcher Russell Martin to the lead for the NL Catcher spot, a spot which Martin truly deserves. His ~210K vote lead over former Dodger and current Met Paul Lo Duca appears pretty safe, though stranger things have happened; Tony Jackson's blog reports that this lead may be down to 110K votes, but that's still a pretty sizable gap. If this plays out to form, Martin will be joined by Brad Penny.
Jeff Kent is in second place for his 2B slot, which would make for some great comedy if he is also is called up to the 2007 All-Star Game in San Francisco. Nomar Garciaparra and Rafael Furcal are both safely back in third place in their respective races, and it should come as little surprise that there is no Dodger outfielder in the hunt for a slot.
I confess that I've done my part to Voix Pour Le Russell, going through all 25 slots on the online ballot before the system blocks any further voting. And I have to say, it's a fine process, and it's fun, and not even all that time-consuming--but it is not the same. It's not the same as when I was seven years old and sitting in the stands of Dodger stadium frantically punching away at the paper all-star ballots so I could stuff them in the box back in the concourse aisle. It's not the same as seeing the floor in front of your seat covered in discarded peanut shells, malt lids, and chads (back in the day when one didn't even know "chad" was a word and not a boys' name). It's not the same as seeing a friendly usher laugh and tousle your hair as he hands you yet another stack of pure ballots, with Dodgers' names just waiting to garner the votes of a well-placed ballpoint pen tip.
But the All-Star Game still remains the only All-Star Game in American sport worth watching--and the home-field advantage gimmick has nothing to do with it. It's still an honor bestowed by the fans on its favorite players (often on players endeared by name value and image rather than on-field play), and the players always seem to be appreciative of receiving such honors (except for that surly Giant outfielder, who despite being fourth in this year's outfield vote is sure to make the squad given the location of the game).
And though the online voting element does take away some of the old voting mystique, when used wisely it is a pretty effective tool to further stoke the fans' interest. Last year's "Final Vote" campaign to get Nomar Garciaparra the final All-Star Game roster slot was a fun one--I must have voted about 300 times for Nomar, who ended up getting 4,000,000 votes to win it. To put it in perspective, Carlos Beltran currently leads NL voting with 1.7M votes--so clearly the Final Vote campaign is well-received by the fans.
It would be sweet to have some Dodgers both in the All-Star Game and performing well in the All-Star Game. Voix Pour Le Russell, if you haven't already.
And throw in a write-in vote for James Loney too while you're at it!