Vote early, vote often … MLB's "Final Vote" is now live

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Yeah, this “Final Vote” stuff is mostly pretty annoying, but it’s the Fourth of July and only a scrooge would complain on a holiday that revolves around barbecue, beer and blowing stuff up.  Oh, and we have a full slate of baseball ahead.  Anyway, here are your candidates:

National League

RP Heath Bell
OF Carlos Gonzalez
1B Joey Votto
RP Billy Wagner
3B Ryan Zimmerman

American League

1B Paul Konerko
OF Nick Swisher
OF Delmon Young
3B Michael Young
1B Kevin Youkilis

You can log on to MLB.com or text “VOTE” to 1122 to select the 35th man on each All-Star roster.  If Votto doesn’t win it in the National League, Reds fans will have some explaining to do.  Come on,  Cincy!

Justin Verlander earns 200th career win

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Astros starter Justin Verlander wasn’t his usual dominant self on Sunday against the Athletics, but he was good enough to get the win. In doing so, he earned the 200th win of his career, becoming the 117th member of the 200-win club.

Verlander went 5 1/3 innings, yielding four runs (all earned) on seven hits and a walk with six strikeouts. On the season, Verlander is now 12-8 with a 2.65 ERA and a 223/29 K/BB ratio in 169 2/3 innings. Sunday’s win helped the Astros stave off the surging A’s. The Astros now have a one-game lead in the AL West.

Only two active pitchers have more wins than Verlander: Bartolo Colon (247) and CC Sabathia (244). Zack Greinke will likely be the next member of the 200-win club as he currently has 184 to his name.