Mets urging fans to 'Vote Wright Now'
Third baseman hopes to join Wagner on NL All-Star squad
NEW YORK -- Leaning on the barricades behind the batting cage, 11-year-old Mark Vassallo, with raindrops starting to stick to his glasses, stared into the distance at third baseman David Wright.
Vassallo observed as one of his favorite players stretched, schmoozed with teammates and then, most graciously, came over and signed a ball for him and his friends.
Little did Wright know that the young Vassallo had already convinced his parents to vote for him five times in the Monster All-Star Game Final Vote, which, if Wright wins, will get him the final spot on the National League's 32-man roster.
Why is Wright the best player?
"He just is," said Vassallo, who added that Wright can hit, field and do almost anything else that a baseball player could possibly do well.
Currently, Wright trails only Brewers outfielder and Final Vote leader Corey Hart, with Phillies left fielder Pat Burrell, Astros left fielder Carlos Lee and Giants center fielder Aaron Rowand also in the running. The Mets organization is making a push every day to get the word out to "Vote Wright Now," highlighting the slogan every time the two-time All-Star comes up to bat.
Now in its seventh year, the Monster All-Star Game Final Vote affords the public an opportunity to add the finishing touches to the league rosters by electing the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began on MLB.com on Sunday, immediately following the Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Chevy, and continues until 5 p.m. ET on Thursday. The winners are to be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
The 79th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD, and around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, and MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.
"Hopefully, New York fans will understand how much it means to me and come out in full force," Wright said on Tuesday.
Major League Baseball has created two methods for fans to participate in the Final Vote -- online at MLB.com, or on the go from their cell phones. Fans also can text the word "VOTE" to 36197 to have the list of candidates sent to their phones. To vote for a specific player, simply reply with your choice. In Canada, fans should text the word "VOTE" to 88555. Standard text-messaging rates apply -- please check with your mobile carrier for details.
In addition, fans will once again have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet through the Monster 2008 All-Star Game MVP Vote on MLB.com during the game.
If Wright makes the All-Star team, he will join Billy Wagner on July 15 at Yankee Stadium. In 2006, his first season with the Mets, Wagner was a Final Vote candidate. Although he wasn't elected that year, he was named to the team in 2007. If Wright does not win the Final Vote, Wagner will be the Mets' lone representative.
Adam Katz, an electrician, was also behind the Mets' batting cage before Wednesday's game, having won tickets through a charity golf tournament. He wore a Mets jersey with no number, showing no bias for a particular player -- in fact, he thinks every Met should be on the All-Star team.
He's already cast his ballots for Wright -- in both the original fan voting and through the Final Vote -- and also wonders why shortstop Jose Reyes didn't make the squad. Most of all, he's just a little discontent as a New Yorker to see most of the American League team filled with Red Sox in Yankee Stadium's final All-Star game.
"The last one at Yankee Stadium, the history there, he's the future star of the Mets," Katz said of Wright. "I would definitely love to see him make the All-Star Game."
Jon Blau is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.