Talking Points: Stuffing the ballot box

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What's the buzz from the world of sports? Here are some items that will have people talking:

1

The National League All-Star roster was shaped by a big push of fans voting online over the final days of voting last week.

In fact, you could even call it a giant push.

The San Francisco Giants landed three players in the starting lineup for the first time since 2001 thanks to a late surge of voting from Giants fans.

Consider: Buster Posey had 3.3 million votes last week, holding a narrow lead over St. Louis' Yadier Molina for the starting spot at catcher.

When the final votes were tallied, Posey was the top vote-getter in the National League with an NL record 7.6 million votes, more than 2.5 million ahead of Molina.

Melky Cabrera went from being No. 4 among outfielders in voting last week to the top vote-getter among outfielders and the second-leading vote-getter among all NL players with 7.5 million votes.

Third baseman Pablo Sandoval turned a 400,000 vote deficit to the Mets' David Wright into a 1.6 million vote victory.

Two other Giants — shortstop Brandon Crawford and first baseman Brandon Belt — finished second at their positions. Angel Pagan was fifth among outfielders. And even Freddy Sanchez, who has not played a big-league game in over a year because of a shoulder injury, finished fourth among second basemen.

If this year's vote doesn't make Major League Baseball rethink it's All-Star vote, it may at least make them think about how online votes are cast.

2

He might not be close to MLB All-Star level yet, but Prairie grad Taylor Ard is already turning heads in the Northwest League.

Drafted in the seventh round by the Seattle Mariners this year out of Washington State, Ard is hitting .281 with 14 RBI after 17 games with the Everett AquaSox. He hit two home runs in a game against the Vancouver Canadians last Monday.

Ard told MLB.com that his quick start is thanks to already being accustomed to swinging a wooden bat.

"Being able to be in a position where potentially I could be playing for the Mariners one day, it's definitely like a dream come true," Ard said in a feature on the Northwest League website.

Ard got a taste of the big leagues on the day he signed his contract. The signing was held at Safeco Field prior to a Mariners game, and Ard met some of the current M's.