Sandoval slips to second in Final Vote

Sandoval slips to second in Final Vote

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are accustomed to teaming up against the Giants' opponents. So it was natural for them to help Pablo Sandoval try to outdo his rivals in the Final Vote competition, which gained even more intensity Wednesday.

Sandoval, who led the National League balloting as he and four other candidates entered the final 24 hours of the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote, slipped to second on Monday morning but was still vying for the lead by mid-afternoon.

Engaged in what amounts to a basketball game against the new leader, Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino -- the lead has changed six times -- Sandoval had relied on a surge of votes Wednesday morning to regain the top spot for the remaining opening on the All-Star team.

"We hope that we can get him over the top," said Staci Slaughter, the Giants' senior vice president of communications. "We're just telling people to keep voting."

Arizona third baseman Mark Reynolds remains within striking distance. Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp and Washington infielder Cristian Guzman are also in the race.

Now in its eighth year, the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began on MLB.com immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Pepsi and continues until 1 p.m. PT on Thursday. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.

Mobile voting in the U.S. is exclusive to Sprint, Nextel and Boost subscribers. To receive the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 1122. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice to 1122. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Standard rate messaging fees also may apply; check with your carrier. Mobile voting in Canada is open to all carriers; fans should text their choices to 88555.

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 Chevy via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint MVP Vote on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.

The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 5 p.m. PT. 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.

Lincecum and Cain, two of Sandoval's most vocal supporters since he was named as a Final Vote candidate Sunday, recorded automated messages that were to be sent to Giants season-ticket holders and urged them to vote for the "Kung Fu Panda," who leads the team with a .326 batting average, 13 home runs and 48 RBIs (tied with Bengie Molina).

Another fresh wrinkle in the Giants' campaign for Sandoval was a one-minute, 40-second video that made the usual rounds online and was aired on the AT&T Park scoreboard during Wednesday's game. It featured a Napoleon Dynamite-type character dancing to a song and wearing a makeshift "Vote for Pablo" T-shirt. He shared screen time with clips of Sandoval's on-field highlights.

"It was funny," Sandoval said.

Slaughter said that the pro-Sandoval spot was selected as the day's top sports video by CNN-SI.

Sandoval himself hasn't had much time to vote. But he said that his mother, Amelia, who has been staying with him since mid-May, and his wife, Yoletzade, have been burning up the Internet on his behalf.

Some players might shrink from all the fuss. Not the gregarious Sandoval, who relishes just having a chance to perform in the July 14 Midsummer Classic at St. Louis.

"It's exciting," he said. "I can't sleep, thinking [about] that."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.