The Mystifying Outrage Of Nick Markakis

Nick Markakis was a staple of the Baltimore Orioles outfield for the past eight years, and he had hoped to retire as an Oriole. Given that, I suppose it’s not surprising that he’s upset with his former organization for not re-signing him this offseason. Markakis took a four-year, $44 million deal with the Atlanta Braves. What is surprising is what he chose to be angry about and how he expressed it.

NickMarkakis“Don’t believe a word they say” was the Markakis quote that made it into the headlines and served the purpose of getting me to click on the story and find out what on earth the Oriole front office was saying. As a fan of the Boston Red Sox, I’m used to management media campaigns being used to slander players or managers the team fired, cut, traded or just opted not to re-sign.
The most notorious example was trying to claim Terry Francona was addicted to painkiller meds in 2011.
So what was Baltimore saying about Markakis that we weren’t supposed to believe? Well, Markakis had neck surgery in the offseason. The team said the length of the contract he was offered by Atlanta was their main concern—he’ll be 35 when the deal expires. Markakis said that’s “all B.S.” It’s really his neck they were worried about.
I guess I’m wondering where the smoking gun is in all this. Is Baltimore supposed to be embarrassed about being concerned over a surgery that affects a player’s disc and already his him questionable for Opening Day? Why would they be trying to hide from that? The length of the contract and Markakis’ health are hardly completely different issues. The four years might be an issue because of the neck surgery.
It’s not surprising an athlete who wanted to end his career somewhere feels rejected by the organization’s belief—a correct one in my view—that going to four years is just too big of a risk. It’s not surprising if he plays with an extra vengeance this year. But none of what happened is a reason to “don’t believe anything they say.”
I like Markakis, both his game and the way he carries himself. But he does need to chill a little bit on this subject. He’ll still get a standing ovation when his new team visits Camden Yards this year.