Before today's column, a public service announcement. If those of you west of the Rockies ever have to choose between Pacific Bell Internet Services and, say, Spike's House'o'Internet & Bail Bonds, I implore you to go with Spike. I'm sure he'll at least return your service requests.

OK…as covered yesterday, I went to the Dodgers/Expos game Saturday night. In addition to having a good time with my wife and our friends, I found time to fill out an All-Star ballot. This was not something I'd expected to do; it hadn't registered with me that I'd be able to do this at the game, and when I saw the kiosk with the ballots, it was a pleasant surprise.

So, I went ahead and did my civic duty. I was the only one of the group to do so, although I did mention to the group the movement to vote a straight Twins and Expos ticket.

Keep in mind: I did this blind. I wasn't sitting there with a laptop and a copy of Baseball Weekly, and at least two or three times during the process, Sophia asked me, "Aren't you done yet?" as if being a baseball writer by trade should make filling out an All-Star ballot easier.

Yes, I know she had a point.

As you read this, remember my standards: I'm looking for the best player, not the guy having the best season, and will generally take the established star unless said star has clearly been passed by someone else.

National League

First Base:Todd Helton. It was him or Jeff Bagwell, and as much as Coors Field bumps Helton's numbers (or used to, anyway), Enron Memorial is definitely helping to mask Bagwell's decline.

Second Base:Roberto Alomar. I almost voted for Jose Vidro, who really is one heck of a player, but Alomar was arguably the best player in the American League last season, and has been playing hurt so far in this one. You can't lose All-Star status in six weeks.

ShortstopRich Aurilia. Mostly because I didn't want Chris Kahrl to show up on my doorstep with a mob of torch-wielding villagers. Last year, we had a knock-down, drag-out fight over whether Aurilia had passed Barry Larkin–who got my vote last year–as the NL's best shortstop. In retrospect, Chris was correct.

I thought about Jimmy Rollins, but applied the Charles Johnson test: If the player goes 10-for-his-next-100, will my vote look stupid? Next year, Jimmy.

Third Base: Scott Rolen. No one else was left. Albert PujolsChipper Jones, and Phil Nevin are elsewhere on the ballot. Edgardo Alfonzo has been imported, but he's not better than Rolen.

Catcher: Mike Piazza. E.J.,a Dodger fan, tried to talk me into Paul LoDuca. I think he'll make a perfect backup.

Outfield: Utterly freaking ridiculous. Let's just have the NL start eight outfielders, playing them wherever they damn please. Barry Bondsand Sammy Sosa are automatics. That leaves one of Lance BerkmanVladimir GuerreroJim Edmonds, and Cliff Floyd for the other slot, and I haven't even mentioned another ten guys who would all be the best outfield candidate in the American League.

I went with Berkman, mostly because I like the guy. OK, it was really because I punched his hole second, after Bonds, then realized I had to take Sosa, which left me no room for Guerrero. Honestly, you can't go wrong, and there are going to be three to five overqualified NL outfielders staying home from Milwaukee in July.

American League

First Base:Jason Giambi. There's no debate here. Giambi hovers above a crowded field the way Frank Thomas once did.

Second Base: Bret Boone. This was the spot that inspired my wife's nudges. I went back and forth between Boone and Alfonso Soriano–remember, this wasn't an open-book quiz–before settling on Boone thanks to the CJ test. To be honest, I hadn't realized Boone was hitting as well as he is (.279 EqA), which would have made the decision easier.

Third Base: Troy Glaus. It was the right thing to do, and it helped me mollify Shelley, an Angel fan since childhood. (I'd been pointing to the out-of-town scoreboard every ten minutes and saying, "Hey, the Angels lost.")

Shortstop:Alex Rodriguez. Worth every penny.

Catcher: Jorge Posada.

Yes. Jorge Posada.

Posada is the best catcher in the American League right now. He's blown past Ivan Rodriguez as a hitter, and the difference in their defensive abilities is more than made up for by Posada's huge edge in playing time, not just this year, but over the past three.

This isn't a vote based just on Rodriguez's injury. I believe Posada has passed him as a player, and isn't going to cede the spot.

Outfield: J.D. DrewAdam Dunn, and Pat Burrell.

Oh, come on. It's an exhibition game, let the best players play.

OK, those are just some more of the great National League outfielders who will be absent come July 16's festivities. I actually voted forIchiro SuzukiManny Ramirez, and Bernie Williams. The last spot is one hell of a race between Williams and Mike Cameron, but when in doubt, I give the edge to the established player. Cameron hasn't been better than Williams over a full season yet, and the two are pretty close in value this year.

Thank you for reading

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