Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado was handed a check on his recent behavior with a five-game suspension after a seeming intentional bat throwing during last weekend’s game with the Athletics.
The Friday and Sunday night incidents that set up his suspension are only the latest in a series of temper tantrums thrown by the 21-year-old player who has spent much of this season blowing his short fuse.
Machado’s first spate of anger last weekend came after the A’s Josh Donaldson delivered a quick and forceful tag to Machado’s gut as the Orioles player attempted to make third base. Machado dramatically fell to the ground flinging off his batter’s helmet as he did so, then jumped up and got in Donaldson’s face over the tag. As a result, the benches cleared in preparation for a brawl that didn’t happen when cooler heads prevailed.
By Sunday’s game in the series, Machado was angered by a brush back pitch from A’s relief pitcher Fernando Abad who tossed one right at Macado’s shins. On the very next pitch, Machado gave a lazy swing and let the bat fly out toward third base.
Naturally the benches cleared again in preparation for a fight. No punches were thrown, though.
After the game Machado offered a prerecorded apology. Though he still insists that he released the bat accidentally.
In his video Machado apologized “to everybody here,” and went on to say: “At that point, I let my emotions take over. In this situation, I think you’ve got to control a little better, and it’s something we’re just going to have to move on from and learn from it. I got the best of it and I learned.”
Not many believed his disclaimer, though.
Even during the game, Orioles play-by-play announcer Gary Thorne assumed that the bat was meant for the A’s pitcher saying, “There goes the bat, oh, oh. You know where that bat was intended to go? To the pitcher!”
Shortly thereafter, Thorne reiterated his feelings about the incident saying, “Machado thought he was thrown at and on that swing he let that bat go intending it to go to the mound. It ended up going to third.”
Machado has been getting criticism from sports writers for this year’s distemper, too.
Sports Illustrated’s Jay Jaffe, for instance, slammed Machado. “Quite simply, most major leaguers are able to control their emotions well enough to know that throwing a bat towards another player in anger is a stupid and incredibly dangerous act,” he wrote on June 10.
Jaffe also felt that the five-game suspension was not nearly enough. Jaffe said that, “the combination of that and Machado’s other two incidents from the series created a pattern of behavior that suggests an anger management problem and little regard for the safety of other players.”
The SI writer suggested that a ten-games suspension would have been better.
Another SI writer echoed that criticism. Tom Verducci pointed out that Machado seemed to be on the right track last year but this year his is running off the rails with his temper.
“This year, with his play and behavior turning sour,” Verducci wrote, “a vexing question keeps coming up about the guy who appeared to be a reliable star on the rise: What’s wrong with Machado?”
It is so bad that Orioles general manager Dan Duquette didn’t shy from pointing out that sending Machado back to the minors remains an option.
Duquette agreed that Machado has proven he is up to playing in the major leagues but then said, “I think what happened was he got to be a big star in a hurry. Some people need a little more time to mature. I think what we’re looking at is a player development issue with Manny. [A minor league assignment] is always an option.”
On the other hand, Bob Nightengale of USA Today insists that Machado isn’t “a punk,” and only let his temper get the better of him. Nightengale also says that Sunday’s temper tantrum does not make Machado “a disgrace to the game.”
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