I feel terrible for the man who died in the stands at Rangers Ballpark on Thursday night and even worse for his young son. But it’s impossible not to have equal sympathy for Josh Hamilton.
The foul ball that Hamilton threw into the stands is going to haunt the man for the rest of his life. How will he be able to sleep tonight or any other night in the near future knowing that if he just threw the ball a little farther, some boy’s father would still be alive?
The answer is that he probably won’t. And for this to happen to Hamilton of all ballplayers seems particularly sadistic. Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP, nearly lost his career to drugs before it even got started, and he only put his life back together by putting himself into the Lord’s hands.
And Hamilton still has his demons. When it looked like he might slip back into drinking a couple of years ago, he swore off alcohol. The Rangers, maybe sensing his fragility, celebrated with ginger ale after winning the ALDS and the ALCS in 2010.
One can only hope that Hamilton is able to put the incident behind him in the coming months, and that he has the strength to withstand those substances that may offer temporary relief but leave him far worse off for the long run. Baseball certainly seems like a secondary concern at the moment, but the diamond is Hamilton’s safe haven and he’ll have the good fortune to be surrounded by teammates day in and day out.
The pain doesn’t figure to go away anytime soon. But here’s hoping it only makes him stronger.
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: