Yankees keep rolling

Major League Baseball on Wednesday released its first update on all-star voting and to no one's surprise the Yankees own the American League. The team that is hanging on to a narrow lead in the AL East has an eye-popping six position players in the lead: the entire infield, the catcher, and an outfielder.

To break it down: catcher Russell Martin has 843,459 votes; first baseman Mark Teixeira, 827,247; second baseman Robinson Cano, 1,185,952; third baseman Alex Rodriguez, 945,127; shortstop Derek Jeter, 931,410; and outfielder Curtis Granderson, whose 994,315 votes trail only the 1,261,659 votes notched by Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, who leads the majors in homers and all-star votes.

We can quibble about whether Jeter and Rodriguez are having the kind of seasons that merit their votes, but Russell Martin? Martin, formerly of the Los Angeles Dodgers, last made the all-star team in 2008, the year he batted .280 and had a puny 13 home runs. This year, he's hitting only .247, although he has nine homers.

The World Baseball Classic expands - why?

This just in: The World Baseball Classic will add a qualifying round and 12 countries to the 2013 tournament.

We're not sure why now is the time to expand the quadrennial event - which has barely raised a pulse here - but MLB commissioner Bud Selig is all for it.

"Growing the game of baseball around the globe is the primary objective of the World Baseball Classic," he said. "By expanding the competitive field of the 2013 tournament, we are demonstrating our commitment . . ." You get the picture.

New participants include France, Spain, Great Britain, Germany, New Zealand, Colombia, Nicaragua, Brazil, Thailand, the Czech Republic, the Philippines, and Israel, which until recently had a pro league but not no more.

Now the real reason the classic has been a bust: The United States' best showing was fourth, in 2009; the highly touted Dominican team has always choked; and Japan, with its brand of nice baseball, has won both tournaments.

This article contains information from Inquirer wire services.