Happy Fourth of July Weekend.
Enjoy yourself with fireworks, picnics, barbecues, family reunions, carnivals, fairs, pool parties, concerts, boating, outings at the ballpark or whatever traditions you treasure the most.
Some of us, meanwhile, will be busy counting all of your ballots. After 70 consecutive days of tireless fan voting to determine starting positions players for the 85th All-Star Game on July 15 at Target Field, the largest All-Star balloting program in sports is closed for now.
This festive weekend will culminate in a big way at 7 p.m. ET Sunday with the much-anticipated announcement of the American and National League rosters. They will be revealed live on the Taco Bell All-Star Game Selection Show on ESPN, preceding the "Sunday Night Baseball" game. MLB Network will host, and MLB.com will simulcast, MLB Tonight's "All-Star Selection Recap Show" beginning at 8 p.m. ET and MLB.com will feature complete coverage with video and analysis of both rosters. The show will be broadcast on TSN2 in Canada.
Did Carlos Gomez, Aramis Ramirez and Jonathan Lucroy ride the wave of Milwaukee's first-half success into starting National League assignments at outfield, third base and catcher, respectively? Will Miami's Giancarlo Stanton get a start after leading the NL in home runs and RBIs? What about Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates and Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers?
In the American League, was that late charge by Oakland's Derek Norris enough to overtake Matt Wieters of the Orioles? The outfield picture was looking like Jose Bautista of Toronto, Mike Trout of the Angels and Yoenis Cespedes with 12 hours remaining, but as millions of votes still poured in, could it be that Adam Jones of the Orioles or Melky Cabrera of the Blue Jays got your starting nod? And does Derek Jeter go out in style with a 14th All-Star selection?
The AL team will have nine elected starters via the ongoing fan balloting program, while the NL squad will have eight fan-elected starters.
Behind the scenes, the rosters are coming together now. Pitchers and reserves for both squads -- totaling 25 for the NL and 24 for the AL -- will be determined through a combination of Player Ballot choices and selections made by All-Star managers Mike Matheny of the Cardinals and John Farrell of the Red Sox. If a player finishes first on the Player Ballot but is also selected as a starter by fans, then the second player on the Player Ballot becomes the automatic reserve selection. The two managers fill out the rest of the rosters after that.
Once both 33-man rosters are announced, which players will be revealed as your candidates for the 34th man? Yes, the wildest week of every summer is about to happen again and that's the other reason this weekend is going to end on such a high note. The 13th annual All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian launches after rosters are announced.
Farrell and Matheny, in conjunction with MLB, will each present you with five Final Vote candidates per league at that point. Steve Delabar of Toronto and Freddie Freeman of Atlanta were last year's winners. More than 430 million votes have been cast in the history of the Final Vote, which features unlimited voting on MLB.com, club sites and your mobile devices. The whole purpose of it is to end any "snub" talk in its tracks.
The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, you can vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and the fan voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
"The participation of our fans in the All-Star balloting process is a key part of their extraordinary bond with the Midsummer Classic," Commissioner Bud Selig said when voting began in Minnesota back on April 25. "The Twin Cities will be marvelous hosts for a celebration of the very best of our game."
More than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots were distributed at MLB's 30 ballparks, each of which had 23 dates for balloting. The last in-stadium ballots were cast on June 26 at Wrigley Field, and after that it was exclusively online and via mobile with the All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian. What happens when all those final paper ballots are lumped in with all those digital ballots of the final week? We'll find out Sunday.
All-Star selections are important not only to the individuals chosen, but also to the chances of a subsequent World Series home-field advantage. For the last five consecutive years, the league that has won the All-Star Game has capitalized on that edge in winning the Fall Classic.
MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog.