Both benches clear after Manny Machado (13) takes exception to an inside pitch during the eighth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Photo: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

As Machado appeals ruling, Orioles eye road ahead

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Major League Baseball put one on a tee by announcing Manny Machado‘s suspension on the very day I usually write this blog.

The Baltimore Orioles’ precocious, 21-year-old third baseman had been showing signs of taking too many liberties in his on-field behavior for a player of his experience. He had gotten annoyed at strike calls more and more often, which shouldn’t be news to anyone paying attention.

Friday night’s incident in which he tumbled backward after being tagged out in the baseline, then bounced up and vented his displeasure with Josh Donaldson for tagging him too hard, was the start of a feisty weekend. The tag was not out of the ordinary and was not that hard, no harder than it needed to be. Machado fell backwards mostly of his own momentum from evading the tag.

It sparked one of those Dancing With The Stars-like gatherings of both dugouts, with no punches thrown.
It sparked one of those Dancing With The Stars-like gatherings of both dugouts and bullpens, with no punches thrown. But Machado brought a little Showtime back on Sunday, hitting catcher Derek Norris in the head without turning to show him concern.

Next thing you know, Machado comes up in the 8th, and Fernando Abad pitcher throws at Machado’s knees twice. It’s debatable whether the catcher called for those pitches, or the pitcher decided on his own to throw them.

The second pitch brought more theatrics, as Machado swung with the ball already in the catcher’s mitt, and the bat flew past third base. It’s anybody’s guess if he was aiming at the pitcher or Donaldson. But he should never have thrown the bat. You never do that.

Monday brought a recorded apology from Machado on MASN, which gave him a forum on the team-owned cable channel without allowing questions from any other media members, thus spawning a controversy of its own. His 5-game suspension and accompanying fine (of an undisclosed amount) were the expected decision from MLB.

It would be folly to think it’s over. Machado has appealed. He already hit Boston catcher A.J. Pierzynski with his backswing again Tuesday night, leading one to believe it will probably happen again. This time he appeared to ask Pierzynski if he was okay, though, and no sparks flew. Additionally, Orioles Executive Vice-President for Baseball Operations Dan Duquette told SI.com that sending Machado to the minors may become an option if he does not reestablish himself as a major leaguer.

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