By: Greg Keenan
Let me just get one thing out of the way. Manny Machado is a bitch. He is immature, short-tempered, flashy and irrational. Though he’s very fun to watch, and probably the most talented left side infielder on the planet, he takes the life that comes with it for granted, and goes about it the wrong way He has been the centerpiece of far too many tense baseball moments for me to have a lot of respect for the guy. That being said, as much as I’d like to blame this entire ordeal on Manny, I can bring myself to see it that way.
In the first game of a three game series against Baltimore, Manny Machado slid hard into second base, taking out Red Sox second baseman, Dustin Pedroia, to try and break up a double-play. However, in doing so, he spiked Pedroia with his cleat, injuring his leg and taking him out for the remainder of the series.
You can clearly see Machado lift his leading foot up to the calf of Pedroia, and right at the last second he points his cleat so that the spikes go right into the side of his leg. Do I think Manny had any malicious intent to harm Pedroia, who he is close friends with? Not one bit. They are both competitors. It was a close game and I think the adrenaline got the best of Manny and he just really didn’t want the Sox to turn a double play. He also visibly feels awful about it as he tries to keep Dustin from falling down.
After the game, Dustin immediately shrugged off any negative feelings towards Machado. He had this to say:
The Red Sox pitching staff, however, did not see it this way. They wanted to make a statement that told the Orioles not to mess with their beloved veteran second baseman. How do they make such a statement? By throwing at the very man who administered the slide that took out Pedroia. As soon as the Red Sox got a comfortable 6-0 lead in the top of the sixth inning of the third game of the series, this happened in Machado’s next two at bats.
Now, I get how big of a deal it is to throw at someone’s head. Big no no. But there no warnings issued, and no evidence that that ball didn’t just get away from Barnes. Granted I’d bet that he did try to hit him, but in my opinion this was handled very poorly by the officials. They should have either administered a warning after E-Rod threw at him, or after Barnes threw at him. They even could have continued the at bat with Barnes to see if he would do it again, and then throw him out. But to throw him out on one pitch up and in on the first pitch of the at bat that turned out to be a foul ball? That’s questionable.
Yesterday, he was suspended for four games. Did he deserve the suspension? Yes. But only because we weren’t able to see another pitch to Manny, and technically every pitch Barnes threw to him that day was at his head.
I wanna give huge props to two people in the situation. Manny Machado, who did not retaliate at all. Very mature throughout this whole ordeal. He did ask Dustin why they did that, but in a calm, non-confrontational manner. But I’ll get to that. Also, big props to John Farrell for getting out there and fighting for his players. It was a 6-0 ballgame, but he cared just as much as he would care about a tie game in game seven of the world series.
When Manny asked Pedroia why they threw at him, Pedroia, instead of defending his teammates, responded with “It’s not me. If it was me I would have done it the first day. I know that, you know that. It’s not me, it’s them.”
Dustin has always been known as a “silent leader”, but he’s the guy now. Without David Ortiz in that clubhouse, he’s the leader. He calls the shots. He needs to take initiative. You can’t blame E-Rod and Barnes for trying to have his back. Pedroia needs to communicate with them, and either say “He needs to take one in the ribs” or “If you retaliate you can meet me in the parking lot”. He does take initiative by telling media that it wasn’t right, but what does that solve when you don’t communicate with your pitchers? He had this to say after the incident:
“That’s not how you do that, man,” Pedroia said. “I’m sorry to (Machado) and his team. If you’re going to protect guys, you do it right away. He knows that. We both know that. It’s definitely a mishandled situation. There was zero intention of him trying to hurt me. He just made a bad slide. He did hurt me. It’s baseball, man. I’m not mad at him. I love Manny Machado. I love playing against him. I love watching him. If I slid into third base and got Manny’s knee, I know I’m going to get drilled. That’s baseball. I get drilled, and I go to first base. That’s it.”
If one person is to blame for this ordeal, it’s Pedroia. Do I think Pedroia wanted any of this? Of course not. I love Dustin. But some simple communication could have prevented this whole thing. I think his heart is in the right place, and he’s never had to really step up and be a leader like this because this is the first year David Ortiz isn’t hitting behind him. His heart is in the right place, and he has kept a level head throughout this whole thing.
The Sox play Baltimore again in less than two weeks. We’ll see if this carries on. For gumore Red Sox related content, you can follow me on twitter @KeenanGuyBoston. For more coverage of your favorite Boston sports teams, be sure to visit GuyBostonSports.com.