Call it childish. Call it immaturity. Call it what you want but it has no place in baseball when a spoiled 21-year-old feels it necessary to release a bat purposely in the direction of opposing players.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning of a blowout by the A’s Sunday afternoon, Athletics reliever Fernando Abad’s first pitch to Manny Machado sailed low and inside, near the Orioles third baseman’s knees. After a second inside pitch toward the same area, Machado’s response was to swing and release the bat, sending it flying in the general direction of third baseman Alberto Callaspo who had just replaced Josh Donaldson. (Replays seemed to show that the ball was already in catcher Stephen Vogt‘s glove when Machado swung and let go of the bat)
It’s unknown if Machado was aware that Donaldson had been replaced.
Flashback to Friday night with a skirmish and drama between A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson and Machado – who took exception to what he considered “a hard tag” when he was running in the base path for the final out of the third inning. Why exactly? No one knows. The tag looked innocent enough and part of a proper play.
But Machado’s response was to create a scene, slamming his helmet to the ground as he stumbled backward, and then aggressively confronted Donaldson. When the two players converged, benches and bullpens cleared as the players from both teams had to be separated. For whatever reason later that game, Orioles pitcher Wei-Yin Chen plunked Donaldson in the sixth inning. Even in an earlier at bat, Orioles pitchers almost hit Donaldson.
Machado’s shining sportsmanship was prevalent in all three games of the weekend series. In Saturday’s match-up, Machado had a hissy-fit and threw his helmet after being called out on strikes by umpire Angel Hernandez to end the third inning.
The A’s may have been fed up with Machado’s diva-like attitude after he clipped Norris on the head with his backswing, not once, but twice earlier in the game and didn’t offer so much as an apology. Television replays even show Machado with a grin at one time.
After the bat toss on Sunday, benches cleared and when the dust was settled Machado, and Abad had been tossed by umpire. Order was restored, the game resumed, Abad earned the respect of all Oakland fans, and the A’s went on to a 11-1 blowout to win the series
In a postgame interview on CSN, A’s DH John Jaso, one of the first Athletics to go toe-to-toe with Machado, criticized the way Machado responded to both incidents, also mentioning that Machado offered no sympathy or apology for nailing Norris with his backswing.
Jaso said his first words to Machado were not suitable for a public broadcast.
“You start to think about ‘who does this guy think he is?’ and that causes –I don’t know – some drama to start, I guess,” Jaso said to Ray Fosse and Glen Kuiper. “The game should be played the right way – and when it’s not played the right way, people should be told, you know, in a certain way.”
Jaso went on to explain that he hoped the veteran guys on the Orioles would set Machado straight “because it needs to be done.”
The A’s face the Orioles at home July 18-20, fans will have to see if this is over or Machado’s antics pick back up.