Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Nick Markakis, 2008 Upper Deck Spectrum #11

One of the drawbacks of being a sports fan in this day and age is the notion of star players as corporate entities. With so many millions of dollars at stake, most of our favorite athletes are very careful to present a bland, polished image so as to remain optimally marketable. Think of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and the rest of the U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball team remaining mum on China's human rights abuses. Try to recall an interview or sound bite with Derek Jeter in which he said something - anything - memorable and uncliched. (Derek Jeter isn't one of my favorite athletes, but you get the point.) That's one of the reasons that sports blogs, many of them having an irreverent, tabloid nature, have become so wildly popular. They expose the human side of these larger-than-life, seemingly distant and untouchable men and women.

With that in mind, I had to chuckle when I read Jon Bois' first-hand account of Nick Markakis, who is the closest thing to a legitimate star that the Orioles currently have (Brian Roberts excepted). This blog post is a lot more harmless than the drunk photos and tirades that are reported on Deadspin and the like.

You see, Jon knew Nick when they were both Cub Scouts in suburban Georgia, back in the early-to-mid 1990s. It's actually kind of charming to imagine the lithe, unflappable outfielder with the sweet swing and the cannon arm as a Sega-loving motor-mouthed braggart of a ten-year-old. It might seem shocking that the young Markakis was such a handful, but I've read articles that hint at a much more irreverent personality than the guy that we fans get to see on the field. He shaved his hair into a mohawk in April, getting a rise from buttoned-down manager Dave Trembley. A Baltimore Sun article talked about Nick's inner child, complete with tales of his fascination with Heelies and photos of #21 balancing a chair on his chin and spinning a basketball on top of a pen.

I'm not saying that I want Nick Markakis to turn into Manny Ramirez 2.0. I just hope that he has fun on the diamond and in the community when the opportunity presents itself.

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