I really like Adrian Gonzalez. And yes, I appreciate that he has a closer connection to San Diego than a lot of star players have to the teams they end up leaving in free agency. But I really do wish that he — and any other player in his position would stop saying things like this:
“I’m torn . . . I’ve been a Padre fan all my life. I’d love to be part of it happening here. But I understand. I’m hoping to stay through the end of next season. Beyond that, I’m not in control. God is. I’m a man of faith.”
There isn’t any faith about it. There’s business. And the business is going to compel either the Padres to trade him or Gonzalez to leave via free agency. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s reality-based. If fans were to accept that more readily than they do they’d probably have a healthier relationship with sports than many of them do. Instead, we’re left to construe these situations in terms of loyalty and heartlessness and religion, when none of it has any practical place in determining which players play for which teams.
If the Padres wanted to pay more money to Gonzalez, he’d stay. If Gonzalez were willing to take considerably less money from the Padres than he’ll get on the open market, he’d stay. But that’s not going to happen, and there’s nothing spiritual or even particularly emotional about it.
I would hope by now that I no longer have to preface All-Star talk with my usual “none of this matters” disclaimers, but please keep all of that in mind when I mention that Nick Markakis is leading all National League outfielders in All-Star voting.
Markakis, with 1,173,653 votes, has surpassed the slumping Bryce Harper in that category. Harper has 1,002,696 votes. The third place outfielder is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers with 925,697. Fourth place — Charlie Blackmon of the Dodgers — is like 300,000 votes back of Kemp.Yes, Markakis, Harper and Kemp may be the starting NL outfield. Brandon Nimmo — not on the ballot — should be grumpy, but he’ll get his chance I’m sure.
The thing about it: Markakis, for as unexpected as his appearance may be on this list, deserves to at least be in the top three. He’s second in WAR among National League outfielders behind Lorenzo Cain. He’s slowed down a good bit in June and he’s coming off of a 2017 season in which he had a 96 OPS+ and 0.7 WAR, but he’s having quite an outstanding season. I write that mostly so that there is a record of it come October and we’ve all forgotten it.
Seriously, though, good for Markakis, who has never made an All-Star Game. Good for Kemp too for that matter, who most people assumed was a walking — well, limping — corpse heading into this season. Good for Harper because anything that can keep up the guise of him having a good year when, in reality, he’s really not, will help his confidence as he heads into free agency.
Finally, good for the American League, who will likely get to face a far, far inferior National League team next month in Washington.
The rest of the voting: