Roy Halladay got a warm greeting from St. Louis fans during the red-carpet parade for the All-Star Game. They chanted "We want Roy!" as he sat on the back of a vehicle and waved.
Get in line. The Blue Jays ace is sure to be a popular guy over the next couple weeks.
Halladay's future is the most pressing question as baseball revs up for an intriguing second half, with muddled division races that once again could come down to the final days. General manager J.P. Ricciardi is listening to offers for the 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner, making the right-hander the biggest chip on the open market ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Halladay could tip the balance in the AL East if the Yankees, Red Sox or Rays make the best offer, or boost Philadelphia's chances of winning a second consecutive World Series. Contending teams across baseball are salivating at the thought of inserting the ace into their rotation.
"Obviously, I'm somewhere that I enjoy being and have spent my entire career. There's a lot, I think, that goes into it," said Halladay, who would have to agree to any deal. "I think as a player, there's that will to win, that will to do it in October and basically that's what all of this has been about. I would like that chance."
Any number of clubs would love to give him that opportunity, including each of Toronto's biggest rivals in the East.
The Blue Jays, who dropped back after a fast start, are talented enough to hurt the division's top teams down the stretch, even if they decide to trade their best pitcher.
Boston and New York were tied for the lead heading into the final weekend of the first half, but the Red Sox won three in a row against Kansas City and the Yankees were swept by the Angels.
Don't forget about the defending AL champion Rays, either. Tampa Bay was 61/2 games back.
RATINGS TAKE DIP
NEW YORK --- The All-Star Game's television ratings were down slightly from last year.
Fox said Wednesday that the American League's 4-3 win Tuesday night earned a 8.9 fast national rating and 15 share. That's down 4 percent from the 9.3/16 for the first nine innings of the 15-inning marathon in 2008.
Meanwhile, when President Obama was throwing the ceremonial first pitch, Fox failed to show the ball's full path. While Obama was in the booth in the second inning, a tape of the pitch showed Albert Pujols reaching out to catch the ball just short of the plate.