Hall of Fame voter Mark Zuckerman on the 2014 class
Did you know that Nick Markakis approaches baseball with the same kind of Zen philosophy personified by Chevy Chase in “Caddyshack”? Chase’s Ty Webb offered young Danny Noonan this pearl of wisdom: “Just be the ball, be the ball, be the ball.”
And in a recent WBAL Radio appearance, the veteran Orioles right fielder offered something similar (via MASN’s Roch Kubatko): "Baseball's a funny game. You have your way with the game, and the game has its way with you. Everybody says it evens out in the end. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't, but once you put a good swing on it, you did your job and now the ball has to do its job. Sometimes you like it and sometimes you don't."
Markakis has been preparing to do his job with the ball by barely taking any time off this offseason.
"This year, I only took two weeks off,” he said, “because with the buildup of injuries in the past, I was set back a good bit. This offseason, I took my two-week break and got the ball going in October, even before the World Series was over. I think that's the first time in my career that I've been able to do that."
Though he was able to play 160 games in 2013, Markakis didn’t show the same pop at the plate as in years past. His 10 homers, 24 doubles , .271 batting average, .329 on-base percentage and .356 slugging percentage were all career lows.
"It all ties into the same thing. With my strength not being where it was, I was having to make adjustments I've never really had to try before, and I just think I was pressing a little bit and just a bit jumpy. … Instead of being relaxed and letting the ball come to me, I felt like I had to get a little more behind it, and it kind of throws things off when you're not where you need to be. …
“The last couple of years have been bumpy for me, but my main thing is being healthy out there and being able to be on the field every day and help the guys out."
Will Markakis be helping out from the leadoff spot? He said he hasn’t spoken to manager Buck Showalter about it.
"I'm sure if he's thinking about it or is going to do it, he'll let me know,” Markakis said. “And it is what it is. If my name is in the one spot or the eight spot, I'm going to go up there and try to do my job every time."
It is what it is. Markakis apparently not only follows the philosophy of “Caddyshack,” but Brian Billick, too.