Inge in close battle for All-Star Final Vote
Tigers third baseman in neck-and-neck race with Kinsler
DETROIT -- Brandon Inge's run for the final spot on the American League All-Star roster is becoming a nip-and-tuck battle in the All-Star Final Vote.
For a while Monday night, Inge had overtaken Ian Kinsler for the AL lead. By Tuesday afternoon, Kinsler was back in front, but not by much. Together, in a close race with Angels third baseman Chone Figgins, each of them has over two million votes, as balloting at MLB.com hits the halfway point and as the Tigers try to put Inge over the top.
And Inge, who wasn't planning on having it affect him or even thinking about it, is finding it impossible to avoid.
"It's everywhere," Inge said. "I've got probably 100 text [messages] every day coming in."
The eighth annual All-Star Final Vote allows fans to decide the 33rd and final roster spot for the American and National Leagues leading up to the 80th All-Star Game on July 14 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Voting runs through 4 p.m. ET Thursday at MLB.com and tigers.com.
Fans also can vote again by mobile device -- exclusive in the U.S. 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.
Inge's surge was at least helped by a big get-out-the-vote push by the Tigers, who added another incentive Tuesday night. Every fan who votes for Inge at least 100 times will be eligible in a drawing to win a fantasy package for thier August 4 game against the Orioles that includes delivering the game ball to the mound, two infield box seats, parking, a Tigers batting practice jersey and dinner for two in the Champions Club.
The Tigers are giving away Inge posters to every fan at Comerica Park who votes for him at tigers.com at the computer they've set up along the concourse. Every fan who votes for Inge on the team site is also automatically entered in a drawing for an Inge autographed bat.
There's a firm belief among Tigers teammates and manager Jim Leyland that Inge belongs on the squad, and they're putting their support behind it. Curtis Granderson, who's already headed for the All-Star Game as a reserve selected on the players ballot, recorded a video message Monday urging fans to vote for Inge.
The fans seemingly have responded.
"I would hope so," Leyland said.
Despite all the attention, more than he probably ever counted on seeing, Inge is trying to take it in stride. Simply being on the list, he said, is an honor.
"Honestly, this is the best of the best," Inge said. "To say you wouldn't be honored to even make it or be considered, you'd be lying. Heck, I'd be excited. I'm excited right now. But at the same time, while I guess it would be a letdown not making it, I'd probably get over the letdown pretty quickly."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.