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Manny Machado's Hothead Antics Go Too Far in Drama with A's

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Manny Machado's Hothead Antics Go Too Far in Drama with A's
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Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado went into this weekend's series against the Oakland Athletics as one of Major League Baseball's most likable young players.

And then Machado exited it wearing baseball's King Dingbat crown, his reward for multiple occurrences of shameful behavior that should have him in trouble with the league office.

For those who missed what happened on Sunday afternoon at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Machado didn't make it to the end of Baltimore's 11-1 loss. That's because he was ejected in the eighth inning.

The 21-year-old wunderkind's crime was responding to a brush-back pitch from A's lefty Fernando Abad by helicoptering his bat down the third-base line, drawing an immediate reaction from the A's on the field and ultimately leading to a benches-clearing altercation.

It looked like this:

Courtesy of MLB Advanced Media via MLB.com.

If what Machado did in this instance was an isolated incident, it wouldn't look as bad. It would still look like him letting his emotions get the better of him, sure, but one instance of that can be forgiven.

But this wasn't an isolated incident. This was the culmination of a bigger picture of boneheadedness that makes Machado look like a major problem child.

It all started on Friday night when Machado was on second base in the third inning of Baltimore's eventual 4-3 loss. With two outs, Adam Jones hit a grounder to A's third baseman Josh Donaldson, who went to tag Machado for the easy out.

As you'll see here, Machado didn't like Donaldson's tag:

Courtesy of MLB Advanced Media via MLB.com.

Is there a better description for Machado's reaction than "temper tantrum"? Nah, I think not.

Granted, Donaldson did make a pretty hard tag. It was more gut punch than love tap. Nobody likes gut punches, because being punched in the gut sucks.

But Donaldson brought up a good point, telling Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he didn't have much choice. Machado was trying to evade him, so a softer tag might have missed.

As a fellow third baseman, you'd think that Machado would understand. If not in the moment, then maybe in retrospect.

But nope. Machado did acknowledge after the game, via Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun, that Donaldson made the "right play," but he also made it clear that he "didn't agree on the tag that he made."

So not only did Machado throw a temper tantrum in the moment, but he also refused to acknowledge that he might have overreacted. Nice ego you've got there, Manny.

Still, I'd rather a guy be an egotistical child than sadistic and dangerous. And Machado was both of these things on Sunday.

The video isn't embeddable, but you can watch Machado's sadism play out at MLB.com. In the sixth inning, Machado whiffed on a Scott Kazmir changeup and caught A's catcher Derek Norris on the helmet with his backswing. It was obvious right away that Norris was feeling it.

In situations like those, you typically see the hitter show some level of concern. For example, after David Ortiz caught Alex Avila on the head with a backswing on Friday, Ortiz immediately checked on him and was still worried enough moments later to administer his own concussion test:

Image courtesy of MLB Advanced Media via MLB.com.

What did Machado do after his backswing hit Norris?

Oh, you know. He bothered to glance Norris' way for maybe two seconds before looking back toward the field, spitting and generally acting like he hadn't just hit a dude on the head with a wooden club.

And according to MLB.com's Jane Lee, the cameras didn't even pick up the worst part:

For the record, no, Norris wasn't OK. Slusser reports that he's going to be able to play on Monday, but Norris was feeling woozy enough to have to leave Sunday's game. It was a legit concussion scare.

There's no doubt that what happened to Norris was an accident. But even after accidents like that happen, it's common courtesy to act like you give a damn. Machado didn't.

Which brings us, finally, to Machado's finale: the tossing of the bat.

Via Slusser, Machado said it was an accident:

An accident, eh? That's plausible. A bat accidentally slipping out of a hitter's hands isn't unheard of, after all, and it can and will go anywhere once it's airborne.

But when a hitter lets a bat slip on accident, he typically swings before the ball is in the catcher's glove:

Image courtesy of MLB Advanced Media via MLB.com.

Further, a batter who accidentally lets his bat fly is typically looking to see where the bat went, not staring down the freakin' pitcher:

Image courtesy of MLB Advanced Media via MLB.com.

Yeah, this looks more like a hitter trying to get even with a pitcher who tried to hit him with a pitch by responding in kind with a bat. And while you can hurt someone with a thrown baseball, I'll wager you can do even more damage with a thrown bat. Especially when the target (or targets) aren't wearing helmets.

Predictably, the A's let Machado have it. Lee collected the quotes, with the highlights being Norris saying Machado acted like a "disgrace to baseball" and John Jaso berating Machado for disrespecting the game.

I think we can take baseball out of the equation and just say this: Machado simply wasn't a good human being this weekend. His dark side came out and did what dark sides do.

That it was him is surprising. Heck, it was headline news when Machado was ejected for the first time last June, and one thing he was praised for by Baseball America during his prospect days was the quality of his makeup. There were no warning signs that Machado had any Carl Everett in him.

Greg Fiume/Getty Images

But that doesn't mean MLB should take it any easier on him. At the least, Machado deserves a hefty fine for the throwing of the bat. Even more appropriate would be a suspension for the whole shebang. Something like 10 games would work.

ESPN.com's David Schoenfield actually predicted that Joe Torre will act accordingly in suspending Machado for his actions: "To a certain extent, the game polices itself, but I'm going to predict that Joe Torre in the league office is going to find good reason to suspend Machado."

Whatever the punishment, you just hope Machado treats the whole thing as a learning experience. He still has a long career ahead of him. There are going to be times when he feels anger and frustration, but he must not let anger and frustration ever get to him as bad as they did this weekend.

His antics were an ugly sight, the likes of which none of us should want to see from him ever again.

Or anyone else, for that matter.

 

If you want to talk baseball, hit me up on Twitter.

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