Jon Lester opens up on beer/chicken-gate, Terry Francona

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Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe spoke with Jon Lester, who is — as far as I can tell — the first of the Red Sox Fried Chicken Posse to answer the allegations about all of that beer and chicken and those video games and stuff.  Lester was contrite to some degree, but added a healthy dose of reality too:

“There’s a perception out there that we were up there getting hammered and that wasn’t the case. Was it a bad habit? Yes. I should have been on the bench more than I was. But we just played bad baseball as a team in September. We stunk. To be honest, we were doing the same things all season when we had the best record in baseball.”

And he said that the chicken thing was overblown. Said they did it once a month. It was Popeye’s, if you care.

On a more important note, Lester had a lot of interesting things to say about Terry Francona leaving. Which, while respectful and charitable to Francona, suggest that, yeah, he lost control of the clubhouse and it was his time to go.  Click through to read his quotes on that. Pete Abe did a great job tracking Lester down and deserves the clicks.

Nick Markakis leads all NL outfielders in All-Star voting

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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: