Manny Machado has become a lightning rod for criticism for the way he has played throughout the NLCS this past week. As Machado had previously never played in a League Championship Series, this may be many members of the national audience’s first real look at the All-Star infielder. What they may not realize is that Machado has a bit of a baseball rap sheet.
June 7, 2014
Machado, then an Oriole, became involved in a feud with the Athletics. On June 7, he was tagged out on his way to third base by Josh Donaldson. Donaldson ran towards Machado, who backpedaled, then tried to shimmy his way around the tag and lost his balance in the process. As he fell, Machado slammed his helmet down in Donaldson’s direction. Donaldson held his hand out as if to say, “What the heck?” The two exchanged words and the benches spilled out into the field.
The next day, Machado swung at a pitch and hit catcher Derek Norris with his follow-through, which forced Norris out of the game. Later in the game, A’s reliever Fernando Abad threw a couple of pitches inside to Machado. Machado then swung and missed at a pitch and flung his bat towards third base. Orioles broadcaster Gary Thorne said as the incident unfolded, “You know where that bat was intended to go? To the pitcher.” Catcher Stephen Vogt and Machado exchanged words and the benches once again emptied. Machado was fined and suspended five games.
June 7, 2016
Royals starter Yordano Ventura threw two fastballs high and inside to Machado, who then hit a fly ball to left field. On his way off the field, Machado stared down Ventura and had some words for him. In the fifth, Ventura hit Machado on the back with a fastball, so Machado charged the mound and threw some punches at Ventura. Machado was suspended four games.
April 21, 2017
Machado was on first base when Mark Trumbo hit a weak grounder to shortstop. Xander Bogaerts fed the ball to Dustin Pedroia at second base. Machado slid hard into Pedroia’s leg, knocking him down. Machado appeared to be immediately concerned about Pedroia’s wellbeing. Pedroia left the game and ended up missing the next five days.
That didn’t stop the Red Sox from seeking vengeance. On April 23, reliever Matt Barnes threw at Machado’s head and was immediately ejected. Pedroia was seen by TV cameras saying to Machado, “You know that it wasn’t me. It’s them.” The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so the pitch counted as a strike.
Pedroia said he didn’t fault Machado for the slide and even apologized to him for Barnes’ actions. Barnes was suspended four games.
On May 2, Chris Sale threw behind Machado’s knees. Both the Red Sox and Orioles were issued warnings and nothing more happened during the game. After the game, however, Machado went on a profanity-laced tirade, talking badly about the Red Sox organization and insinuated that he could go after a pitcher with his bat if he is thrown at again.
June 27, 2018
Machado failed to run hard when he hit into a 4-6-3 double play. He apologized after the game for his lack of effort.
October 13, 2018
Machado grounded out to Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia in the fourth inning of Game 2 of the NLCS. Arcia took his time throwing to first base for the out because Machado did not run hard. Manager Dave Roberts said he didn’t feel a need to punish the shortstop during the playoffs for his infraction. Machado later told Ken Rosenthal on the FS1 broadcast, “Obviously I’m not going to change. I’m not the type of player that’s going to be ‘Johnny Hustle’ and run down the line and slide to first base and … you know, whatever can happen. That’s just not my personality, that’s not my cup of tea, that’s not who I am.”
In Game 3, Machado made two illegal slides into Arcia attempting to break up double plays. The first happened in the second inning. After Machado hit a leadoff single, Cody Bellinger hit a grounder to second baseman Travis Shaw, who threw to Arcia at the second base bag. Machado slid right into Arcia, causing Arcia to not even attempt a throw to first base. If he had, Bellinger likely would have been called out at first base because of Machado’s interference. The second infraction happened in the fourth inning. Machado drew a leadoff walk and Bellinger again hit a double play grounder, this time to Jesús Aguilar at first base. Aguilar fired to Arcia at the second base bag. Machado slid into the bag but reached across his body with his right hand to try to make Arcia’s life more difficult throwing to first base. The throw was a bit off-line and Bellinger was safe, but was later ruled out when the umpires ruled that Machado interfered.
And as we all know in Game 4, Machado grounded out to Arcia in the 10th inning. As he crossed the first base bag, Machado dragged his left leg so it hit Aguilar’s right leg on the bag. Aguilar wasn’t happy with what happened and the two exchanged some unkind words, causing both benches to empty. Both players appeared to make up when Machado reached in the 13th following a single. Machado, however, was fined an undisclosed amount for his actions.
Machado is now 26 years old and has been in the league for seven seasons. His behavior might be expected of a rookie or an otherwise young player. It’s not expected of someone in his mid-20’s who has been around a while. His behavior doesn’t seem like something that can be taught out of him anymore; he’s just a hothead. Machado, however, is so talented that his antics aren’t likely to weaken his market when he hits free agency once the postseason is over. He and Bryce Harper will be two of the most sought-after free agents this winter. Perhaps a big pay day will help Machado calm down.