I like Manny Machado. I like him just as much as the next person. He is a team leader on the field. In fact, he’s probably the most talented guy on the roster. There is constant debate over who the best player is in the majors and Manny Machado’s name is always in the discussion. But it’s time for him to grow up.
It is no coincidence that Machado finds himself at the center of controversy every season.
In 2014, then Oakland A’s thirdbaseman Josh Donaldson applied a tag to him that he considered too hard. It led to confrontation and the benches clearing. The next night, Machado took exception to a pitch he thought was too close for comfort and he let go of his bat on his next swing, sending it spiraling down the third base line toward none other than Josh Donaldson. It led to another bench clearing debacle and his ejection from the game.
In 2016, against the Kansas City Royals, Machado watched as the late (hotheaded) Yordano Ventura pitched him inside on a couple pitches back-to-back. In the replay, you can see Manny stare him down and then bark something at him before taking a third pitch inside. Machado then charged the mound and took a violent swing at Ventura followed by a DDT that Jake The Snake Roberts should be proud of. Both players were ejected and served suspensions.
This season, Machado has found himself in hot water again after being accused of violating the “late slide rule” which has been created to protect secondbasemen and shortstops from being crashed into cleats first by players attempting to slide into the bag. In last night’s game against Boston, Manny slid, relatively late, and cleated the Red Sox Dustin Pedroia in the calf, causing him to have to leave the game. Tempers once again rose, though not to a point of clearing the dugouts, and managers argued with umpires about whether Machado had been in violation of the late slide rule. It was ruled that he was not, however, Boston may have different thoughts tonight when they face the O’s in the second game of the series.
Machado has been called out for his lack of hustle on ground balls. He doesn’t play his hardest all the time. He relies too much on his pure talent and forgets the basics. These are all things that, at one time or another over the last few years, have been pointed out by the few and far between. But they are things that need to be acknowledged and corrected.
The point is, Baltimore fans hold a lot of opposing players near and dear to their heart as the bad guys. Current Blue Jay Jose Bautista or former Red Sox David Ortiz hear boos resonate around Oriole Park whenever they show face on the field or in the batter’s box. Josh Donaldson gets the royal villain treatment, as did Ventura in the games following his altercation with Machado last year. And while we enjoy to hate these guys, knowing that they have done things throughout the years to really piss us off and disrespect our team, it doesn’t excuse the Orioles from having a guy behave in the same, aggressive manner. Manny Machado is young; he is only 24 years old and has had to grow up in the majors. However, that is not an excuse for his knack to have a short fuse and a loud mouth. Realistically, his actions could cause a lot of problems for his team. Long term suspensions leave the team high and dry without their best player. Bench clearing brawls can cause injuries.
It’s time for Machado to face the music. His outbursts on the field may seem to be the kind of shakeup that baseball needs once and a while, but life is much better without it. A team like the Orioles, who have found themselves as annual competitors over the last five years, cannot afford to have their star player acting like a jackass whenever he feels slighted. He is too great of a player to have an attitude problem paperclipped to his resume.