Manny Machado is definitely one of the brightest talents in baseball and even if it seems like he is established for many years, it’s also easy to forget that he’s not even 22.
Machado will turn 22 on July 6, which is about 23 months after he made his major league debut in the thick of a pennant race.
Age aside, that doesn’t preclude or excuse Machado or anyone else from what happened Sunday against the Oakland Athletics. In an otherwise 11-1 rout by Oakland, Machado attempted to throw his bat at reliever Fernando Abad after getting a fastball that brushed his leg.
The bat wound up flying down the third-base line and Machado claimed that the bat slipped, which nobody is buying not even Baltimore play-by-play man Gary Thorne.
As of this writing, major league baseball hasn’t announced any discipline but Machado should get suspended for at least three games if not more.
The only saving grace from Machado’s immature reaction is that nothing really escalated and it was not much other than both teams standing around, but that hardly absolves anyone from doing that.
It was a rough weekend for Machado’s otherwise good reputation.
On Friday, Josh Donaldson tagged Machado on a ground ball for the final out of the third inning. Machado had issues since the tag appeared to catch him off-balance. He flung his helmet to the ground while falling and had words with Donaldson, who made a harmless tag play at the base.
After Friday, Buck Showalter defended his player by saying: “Manny cares. Until you’ve walked a mile in a man’s shoes you don’t really know what goes on. It’s a pretty easy call for me what side of the fence I’m on.”
Showalter is doing what any manager is supposed to do in defending his player. His next sentence should have been something like: “It’s over, let’s move on.”
It wasn’t, and perhaps Machado thought it was acceptable to act like he did Sunday. It’s apparent that it was not, not even in the eyes of Showalter.
“If you look at it realistically, it was two competitive guys. Both were probably a little right and a little wrong,” Showalter said. “Two days later, somebody decided to do something else. I’ll manage my club accordingly and they’ll live with their decisions.”
There have been significantly worse incidents than this. Among them are Juan Marichal attacking Johnny Roseboro with his bat in 1965 or the Tim Teufel–Rob Dibble incident in 1989 or the 2003 brawl between the Yankees and Red Sox in the 2003 postseason.
There’s a lot of talk about playing the game the right way and some of that pertains to David Ortiz’s bat flipping on home runs, which led to last week’s brawl in Tampa Bay.
It’s fair to say that Machado intentionally losing his grip on a bat even if it did not hit the pitcher, was not playing the game right way and it’s up to baseball to handle it properly.