Take all of this with a boulder-sized grain of salt, but keep in mind a Boston Globe report from only a few days ago stating that the Cubs’ ownership had officially asked permission of the Red Sox to speak with their current general manager, Theo Epstein.
According to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, a “life-long Cubs fan” named Noah Pinzur is claiming that he spotted and conversed with Epstein on Saturday afternoon at a Starbucks in Lakeview, just a handful of blocks south of Wrigley Field.
Again, none of this has been confirmed in any way, but here’s how that alleged encounter played out:
“Excuse me,” Pinzur asked. “Are you Theo Epstein?”
“No,” replied Epstein (or his lookalike). “I get that a lot.”
After a brief pause, the real or fake Epstein added: “Who is Theo Epstein?”
Pinzur replied: “He’s the guy who may become general manager of the Cubs, or at least we hope.”
“Once he had to ask me who ‘Theo Epstein’ was, I knew it was him,” Pinzur then told the Tribune. “It was clearly him being driven in the direction of Wrigley Field. “It was Theo all right. I’m 99.9 percent sure.”
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: