ESPN Los Angeles’ Tim Keowan says something that I’ve been thinking since Sunday when I watched the Giants-Cardinals game and heard the broadcasters talking about how baseball rivalries shouldn’t be taken so seriously. And last night when the Dodgers and Giants players implored fans to keep their animosity limited to the action on the field. Here’s Keown:
I contend this is a sports story only because it occurred outside a ballpark. The two men who beat Stow are thugs first, baseball fans second. Their motivation had nothing to do with sports; Stow’s Giants jersey was merely the avenue they chose to display their subhuman tendencies. They went after him because he was there; his affiliation to the Giants was just the excuse.
This thing wasn’t about a rivalry. It was about criminals doing criminal things in a baseball setting. Anyone who can understand the appeal to keep baseball rivalries civil aren’t in need of the message. Likewise, the people who would beat up someone in a parking lot are immune to reason.
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: