SAN FRANCISCO Third baseman Pablo Sandoval was asked howmany All-Star ballots he punched or mice he clicked.
I dont, I dont, Sandoval said, laughing. I dont havetime to vote.
Everyone else in the Bay Area did, apparently. Giants fanswere the story of All-Star selection Sunday, overwhelming the final vote totalsin a flood that was sufficiently large to generate suspicion.
Catcher Buster Posey, outfielder Melky Cabrera and Sandovalwere elected as starters to the NL squad, marking the first time that theGiants had three players lead the fan balloting at their positions since 2001.
Matt Cain was the only representative from the Giantspitching staff. If he gets the nod for the NL team, the Giants could have fourstarting players out of nine.
But thats only half the story. Posey, Cabrera and Sandovaldidnt just receive a final push in the voting. This was a gigawatt-sizedsurge.
Posey didnt simply lead all NL vote getters. His 7,621,370votes were the most ever for an NL All-Star. Cabrera didnt just catch reigningMVP Ryan Braun to make the starting outfield. He led all outfielders and his7,521,784 votes were second to Posey on the NL roster.
The biggest surprise was Sandoval, who missed a monthbecause of a broken hamate bone in his left hand and yet was able to pass theMets David Wright, who is hitting .355 and has led the NL in batting averagefor most of the season.
But nothing symbolized the ballot-box stuffing more thanthis: Freddy Sanchez, who hasnt played an inning in more than a year becauseof shoulder and back issues, ranked fourth among NL second basemen with2,289,147 votes.
I was getting nervous, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said,tongue in cheek. Because I didnt have Freddy all year and here he was goingto get a shot to start the All-Star Game.
The Giants fan influence was felt throughout the ballot.First baseman Brandon Belt and shortstop Brandon Crawford finished second attheir positions. Belt drew 3.9 million votes to finish well behind CincinnatisJoe Votto; Crawfords 3.6 million votes were just 300,000 fewer than theCardinals Rafael Furcal. Crawford outpaced much bigger names such as TroyTulowitzki and Jimmy Rollins.
Angel Pagan finished fifth among NL outfielders, finishingahead of Matt Holliday, Andrew McCutchen and Hunter Pence, among others.
Our fans our fans are crazy, Belt said. I mean, itsamazing.
The last time the Giants had three elected starters, secondbaseman Jeff Kent, outfielder Barry Bonds and shortstop Rich Aurilia led theballoting.
The Giants could add another representative if there areopenings on the NL pitching staff due to injury or starters being ineligible ifthey pitch the final day of the first half. That could open up a spot for RyanVogelsong or Madison Bumgarner, both of whom have the numbers to go.
As it stands, Cain is the lone representative from a Giantsstaff that is the primary reason the club has ascended to first place in the NLWest.
Who wouldve thought this is the way itd go for theAll-Star Game? Bochy said. Pitching is our strength and its the reason weare where we are.
Im surprised, but at the same time, Im not surprised.Because here again, you are hearing from these great fans. Its amazing whattheyve done and how theyve supported the players
I mean, when you see Freddy Sanchez get 2 million votes thats one of themore amazing things Ive seen.
Cain, who threw the 22nd perfect game in major league history on June 13, was among the selections from the player ballot; itshis third All-Star team and for the first time, hes eligible to compete in thegame. The previous two times, he was injured (struck on the elbow by a linedrive) andor ineligible because he threw on the Sunday before the break.
What if Cain gets to throw to Posey during the game?
I mean, thatd be perfect, said Cain, choosing anappropriate word.