It’s getting so damn touchy-feely in baseball these days. Yesterday we heard about how the Phillies don’t just like, but “really like” Jonathan Papelbon (is that more than like-like? Hurm). Today we learn that “deep down,” Terry Francona wants to manage the Cubs:
For his part, Francona says he is “trying to stay under the radar” with his unspoken candidacy, but a source very close to him says “deep down” he badly wants to manage the Cubs — for whom he played in 1986 while falling in love with Wrigley Field — and has told Epstein so.
Like. Love. Deep feelings. This is baseball, people. Big time professional sports. Suppress your emotions, will ya? Make them manifest themselves in unhealthy behavior later in life like all of the other athletes. Have this untenable conflict within you interfere with your marriages and family and lead you to a deep, empty unhappy place later. It’s what we’ve come to expect of you and, frankly, it wigs me out when you don’t do 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: