We’re down to our final day in 2019 and as we await the countdown to the ball dropping in Times Square, I’ll post an early resolution to avoid dusting off the old “Orioles infield” joke that should have joined Wilson Betemit in retirement.
In the meantime, here are a few random thoughts:
* The media rush to post sports highlights and lowlights for the decade is lost on me.
We’re not moving past the ’80s or ’90s. It’s 2010-19.
Are we really waxing nostalgic? Are we that desperate for copy?
(Asks the guy who’s sharing random thoughts today and occasionally sifts through his “mailbag” or heats up leftovers to make it through another slow period in the offseason. I get the irony here.)
I’m a fan of lists, but there’s nothing sentimental to me about entering the year 2020.
Wake me when we hit 3000.
* For my last smooth segue of the decade, should former Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis be a consideration for the Hall of Fame or does he need to reach 3,000 hits?
The subject came up during a recent airing of “Wall to Wall Baseball” on MASN.
Markakis will be entering his 15th season in the majors and is a career .288/.358/.424 hitter with three Gold Gloves and one Silver Slugger Award. He made his only All-Star team in 2018, but should have been selected in previous years.
The snubs seemed to bother everyone except Markakis.
The Braves re-signed Markakis to a $4 million contract after declining his option for 2020. He’s 36 years old and projected to become a platoon player in left field, which makes 3,000 hits seem unlikely with his total at 2,355.
A fractured left wrist limited Markakis to 116 games this summer after he appeared in 162 the previous season, when he struck out only 80 times and slashed .297/.366/.440. He’s been a model of consistency, the outfield version of former Orioles ace Mike Mussina, who made it to the Hall of Fame in his sixth year of eligibility.
Markakis has registered a .358 on-base percentage in nine seasons with the Orioles and a .359 OBP in five seasons with the Braves. Only six points separate his batting averages.
Is he a Hall of Famer? Doubtful without those 3,000 hits, and I don’t see him playing long enough to reach the milestone.
You can be certain of this much: Markakis won’t attempt to hang around long enough to get there. That’s just not his style. He’ll happily move into retirement to spend more time with his family and in a tree stand.
* Former Orioles manager Johnny Oates believed that the best defensive outfielder should play left field at Camden Yards, which is one reason why Brady Anderson didn’t become the primary center fielder until later.
Oates noted how a more athletic player was needed in left due to the fans’ proximity to the field. Anderson was more capable of getting to the fence and reaching over it.
MLB Network Radio’s Jim Duquette said there was talk while he worked in the Orioles’ front office of having Markakis play left field at home and right field on the road, but it didn’t materialize.
* While the Orioles keep checking on the trade market for reliever Mychal Givens, fans wonder if the team would be willing to strike a deal with the Nationals.
The sides haven’t made a trade since the Expos moved to D.C. in 2005. The last one between the franchises came in September 2001 with outfielder Tim Raines Sr. coming to Baltimore in order to join his son in the same outfield.
(The Orioles needed to do it as a promotional gimmick because Cal Ripken Jr.’s pending retirement just wasn’t garnering enough attention.)
Former Orioles executive Dan Duquette was interested in Nationals catcher Sandy Leon during the 2014 Winter Meetings, but a deal didn’t happen. Leon ended up with the Red Sox.
The Nats were desperate for relievers at the 2019 trade deadline, but never seemed to zero in on Givens. They acquired Daniel Hudson, Roenis Elías and Hunter Strickland on the same day.
For multiple reasons, I’d be surprised if the Orioles dealt Givens to the Nationals before opening day.
* This has nothing to do with baseball, but if your preseason NFL picks included the Browns going to the Super Bowl, you shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a stadium in 2020.
I thought they’d win the division, but the Super Bowl?
They were a popular choice and it struck me as a tremendous reach back in August.
How’s it looking now?
There’s bold and then there’s dumb. And I should know. I’ve been called both.