Nick Markakis' first All-Star Game and an Oriole prospect that got away - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Nick Markakis’ first All-Star Game and an Oriole prospect that got away

Photo credit: Brett Davis - USA Today Sports

WASHINGTON—After 13 seasons and nearly 2,200 hits, Nick Markakis is finally an All-Star. For years when he was a perfectly qualified candidate, Markakis insisted he’d prefer having a few days off with his family at the All-Star break instead of playing in the game.

At 34, Markakis is ready for his All-Star Game. He’ll bat seventh and play right field for the National League on Tuesday.

Four years removed from a storied Orioles career, Markakis is enjoying his best major league season with a .323/.389/.488 slash line with the Atlanta Braves, who have surprised many in baseball with a 52-42 record, just a half game out of first place in the NL East.

With his three young sons in tow, Markakis showed why he’s had a different attitude about his first All-Star appearance.

“These guys, they’re probably more excited than I am,” Markakis said. “I’m happy for them. I’m happy for my family that they get to experience it.”

Now that he’s actually at the game instead of at his Monkton, Md., home, he’s all for it.

“I’ve never been here,” Markakis said. “You’re here with the best baseball players in the world. What else can you ask for?”

Markakis even admits to enjoying it—albeit with a caveat.

“I am. I am. It’s a lot of media time, which I’m really excited about,” he joked.

For Markakis, it was ideal that the game was taking place just 60 miles away from his family’s home. When the game is over, he can decompress with his family for two days before he returns here for a three-game series with the Nationals.

Markakis was a well-liked teammate and is still admired by fans, who were disappointed when he left the Orioles after the 2014 season.

Last month when the Orioles visited Atlanta, they played against Markakis for the first time since 2015. In the interim, the Braves have built a competitive team full of appealing players, and the Orioles have fallen flat.

Markakis still follows what’s going on in Baltimore, but knows where his priorities lie.

“I’ve got to worry about what’s going on with us over there in Atlanta,” Markakis said.

“You know what they’re going through. It’s tough, and it’s draining. Then again, we’re playing baseball. We’re getting paid to play baseball. We’re getting paid a lot of money to play a kid’s game.”

While the Braves aren’t thought to be one of the top contenders in the Manny Machado sweepstakes, they have been interested in him and have a deep farm system.

“He can do for us what he can do for any other team,” Markakis said. “One of the top players in the game, defensively and offensively. No matter who he goes to, somebody is going to be very lucky. They’re going to get a good guy and a great baseball player.

“You can put him anywhere in the order, you can put him anywhere on the field. He’s an athlete. I love him. When he came up, he’s one of the few guys that I never saw struggle.”

If this is his lone All-Star appearance, Markakis will make the most of it. He’s glad that it came at this point in his career.

“My kids will always remember it,” Markakis said. “To have these guys here means the world to me.”

One that got away

At the non-waiver trade deadline in 2013, the Orioles included a raw young pitcher in the deal with Houston that brought Bud Norris to Baltimore.

Josh Hader was a 19-year-old left-hander at Delmarva, a 19th-round draft choice the year before. Hader was signed by Dean Albany, who thought he had found a hidden gem.

There was a lot of angst in the organization about trading Hader , who’s from Millersville, Md., and went to Old Mill High School. But the Orioles really wanted Norris, who won 15 games the next year for the team that handily won the AL East.

It took Hader nearly four years and another trade from Houston to Milwaukee to make the majors. Since debuting with the Brewers in June 2017, Hader has been outstanding.

His 2-0 record, 1.50 ERA and 0.792 WHIP earned him a trip to the All-Star Game. The Orioles could certainly use a left-hander who allows fewer than four hits per nine innings and strikes out nearly 17 hitters per nine.

Hader said he was disappointed that he was traded away.

“At first, obviously, that’s what you want to be, you want to be the hometown guy,” Hader said. “You go through the minor league system and make your debut in front of all your fans, your family and friends. The main goal is to be a big leaguer, and be a big leaguer for as long as you possibly can.”

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. karks

    July 17, 2018 at 7:57 am

    I’m so happy for Nick! He deserves the recognition. Glad to see he gets to share it with his kids.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 17, 2018 at 3:02 pm

      He seems very happy about it, and I’m happy for him.

  2. Dblack2508

    July 17, 2018 at 8:16 am

    Greetings Rich, I remember the trade for Bud Norris and wondered about Haders projections. Obviously, like Arrieta, no one would ever predict he would be so dominating.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 17, 2018 at 3:04 pm

      There were people in the organization, who didn’t want him traded. That’s why you don’t judge trades for several years after they’re made.

  3. Boog Robinson Robinson

    July 17, 2018 at 8:23 am

    Funny, when reading the title of this article, I thought it was Markakis that was going to be the player that got away.

    A really bad decision made by the Orioles brass. All because he never became the 30 home run player they thought he would be. Instead, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that this guy could reach the 3000 hit plateau, all the while playing a gold glove caliber right field. Another example of this team’s over infatution with the long ball in my opinion.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 17, 2018 at 3:06 pm

      I think it was more a concern with Markakis’ health at the time and the feeling, which turned out to be incorrect that he wouldn’t be a top-shelf player four years later. Keeping Markakis would have been a great move, but who would have ever thought he’d have such a great year at this age? I ‘m very happy for him.

      • Steve Cockey

        July 17, 2018 at 4:24 pm

        I’m thrilled for Nick too. And, for me, the bigger problem was that the O’s failed time and again to adequately replace Markakis. His production over the 4 years in Atlanta wasn’t overwhelming overall. But the O’s RFs since Nick have been such a disaster (Parra, Snider, Rasmus, etc.) that Markakis looks like Mike Trout in comparison.

  4. Borg

    July 17, 2018 at 8:52 am

    Markakis looks especially good when you take a look at the combined stats of the right fielders the Orioles have trotted out there since he left. He outshines them in pretty much every offensive and defensive category you’d care to look at, not to mention he would have been the leadoff hitter the O’s have lacked the last few years. The HR infatuation seems to have come to Baltimore with Showalter, who never seems very willing to use players who do anything other than swing for the fences. Weaver used to talk about three run homers, but to have one of those a team actually needs two baserunners ahead of the slugger. When does that happen now? Markakis should have been a lifelong Oriole but with the FO the O’s have it isn’t surprising he was allowed to leave.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 17, 2018 at 3:07 pm

      Markakis is certainly missed, and it’s nice that he’s having such a great year at 34.

  5. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    July 17, 2018 at 9:13 am

    Its great to see Nick make the ASG as a starter. Playing on those dreadful Orioles teams he never received the recognition he was due. It takes a career year to get noticed. Always putting together tough at bats and playing excellent defense. I hope he has a great game tonight. Go Nick!

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 17, 2018 at 3:08 pm

      I always wanted to see him in an All-Star Game, and I’m glad I have the opportunity.

  6. Bancells Moustache

    July 17, 2018 at 10:01 am

    Last night during the Derby a commercial was run touting the Hall of Fame Induction and inviting fans to come to Cooperstown. That got me thinking; are O’s fans ever going to Cooperstown again? The only guy with that potential is leaving town in the next few days, and if he does get in, it will be on the strength of his next 8-10 seasons, not his last 6. So Machado would go in as a (insert major market team here) not an Oriole. I suppose Showalter has an outside shot, but not unless he starts winning championships, and in a big damn hurry. The only other option I see is if the O’s resign Markakis when his Atlanta deal is up, he manages to stay healthy and crank out hits and reaches 3000. Either way, not a whole lot of Cooperstown tickets look to be purchased in the 410 area code.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 17, 2018 at 3:09 pm

      How about Mike Mussina?

    • JerseyOsFan

      July 17, 2018 at 5:04 pm

      Mussina is going in as a member of the Boogie Down Bronx team. Even if Mussina went in as an O, I wouldn’t attend his Cooperstown celebration. I called him a Traitor back then and stick by that. (I understand Free Agency, etc… but this is fan talk.)

  7. SpinMaster

    July 17, 2018 at 10:34 am

    In regards to the Oriole infatuation with the long ball, I think Tim Beckham seems to be the epitome of this infatuation. He should be a table setter at the top of the order but instead he acts like he is one of the Oriole bombers. He grips the bat with his bottom hand over the knob of the bat, which anyone who ever played this game knows, is what someone does to get the most whip out of a swing possible. He has virtually no bat control using this technique and only hits to right field when he swings late on a fast ball.

    • Bancells Moustache

      July 17, 2018 at 10:48 am

      That’s the Showalter way. Nevermind the base running, just hit it as far as possible. I have a difficult time believing that you and I can spot what a banjo-hitter like Beckham is doing but an MLB coaching staff cannot. That’s been my biggest frustration with the Showalter regime, they are continuing to play steroid-era baseball when it’s long past it’s shelf life.

      • Rich Dubroff

        July 17, 2018 at 3:10 pm

        It will be interested to see how they play when some of the younger players get a shot.

  8. Birdman

    July 17, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    The Orioles have made so many bonehead personnel decisions, including their failure to re-sign Nelson Cruz, bidding against themselves for Chris Davis, and their failure to extend Machado several years ago. But I can’t really fault them for not giving Markakis a 4 year contract after the 2014 season.

    Of course, in hindsight, not re-signing Markakis looks like a big mistake. But at the time, he needed neck surgery and was coming off three straight seasons (2012-2014) in which his offensive production had declined significantly from earlier in his career. So I won’t fault the organization on that particular decision.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login or Register Here

Leave a Reply

To Top