Still, Brian Snitker said Tuesday, “I think everybody to a man is behind him in his decision.”
A few days after writing about the disappointment of Tiger Woods not showing up for the PGA Tour's restart, here I go looking at another absent performer from a different angle. However it's framed, the theme of people not playing is growing just a tad tired.
Markakis, who will turn 37 well before next season, said that his playing future is unclear. Isn’t everyone’s? For now, it would be a mistake to let this moment pass without appreciating the quality workmanship that went into his career.
Reared in the northern ’burbs, Markakis returned home before the 2015 season in a Braves signing filled with trepidation. But those who worried about the effects of offseason neck fusion surgery underestimated Markakis’ resolve.
A Baltimore Oriole for the bulk of his career, the Braves acquired a steadying presence in right field. So measured in his preparation, he was the guy you could set your sundial by, as serious as a Trappist monk about playing a game - a sterling example for a young team. To draw a smile from him at the ballpark was a medal-worthy feat.
And with the Braves, Markakis got his first and only All-Star recognition in 2018 (when he hit .297 with 43 doubles and 14 home runs that season). That same year he won his third career Gold Glove. He began that charmed season, which marked the Braves’ return to the postseason after a five-year absence, with his first ever walk-off home run on opening day.
And he already had banked his 2,000th career hit, in a quest that was highlighted by his family in the stands in 2017 with a makeshift countdown sign (his hit total stands at 2,355 now).
A downside: He was a non-factor in two postseasons for the Braves – going 4-for-33 (.121) with no RBIs. And in an age of power, he wasn’t a big bopper, averaging just over nine homers a season with the Braves.
His 2019 with the Braves was a fitting example of his tenacity. After suffering a fractured wrist, he returned earlier than expected and had six hits in his first two games back in September.
This disciple of routine decided he just could not function in a time when routine has all but been outlawed.
He is a man of little variance. At his best, he hit .306 (2008). And at his worst, he hit .271 (2013). There were no wild swings – either at the plate or in his numbers.
Pillars of constancy are collapsing all around us, and now this: Nick Markakis has opted out.