The Baltimore Orioles as a team and Manny Machado as an individual need to both remember where they are this weekend, that being Oakland. In saying that, I mean that things beat to the tune of a different drum out in “Cali” as they call it (…”vacay” anyone?!). Things aren’t quite as intense as they are here on the east coast. That aside, this will be the first time since the incident involving Josh Donaldson that the Orioles and Machado will be facing Oakland. I’m not going to get into detail about that situation as it’s been well documented here on Birds Watcher, the fact that the teams are meeting again is noteworthy.
The obvious question is whether or not there will be any backlash involving the two teams and/or Machado directly. On one hand, one might argue that it’s the Orioles who have the ball in their court on that. After all, Machado was in fact the last player to be hit in the sequence of events. However let’s also not forget that this is an Oriole team that’s in a pennant race right now – as is Oakland.
You’ll recall a few weeks ago when Boston’s John Lackey made a few veiled comments about Nelson Cruz’s suspension for PED’s. At the time, I tweeted that the Orioles needed to be careful not to get into anything with Boston. Bad teams will often try to start something with good teams so as to throw them off. In this case, both teams are good. However the fact is that the O’s are in a much more precarious position than is Oakland given the fact that they’re on the opposite coast. This is a huge road trip for the Birds, and they can’t afford to have outside distractions.
I would suspect that Manny Machado won’t be received particularly well by the Oakland fans. But that’s to be expected. I’m talking more
about on-field matters than anything else. I will say that umpires are briefed prior to series’ about any past issues between the two sides. So the incident with Donaldson and the bat throw will be aware to the umps.
They can also issue warnings before games begin – such as when the managers exchange lineup cards. If I were the umpires for tonight’s game, I’d consider doing that. Both managers would probably argue that it would take their pitchers’ ability away to pitch inside, however it might also dissuade anyone from doing anything regrettable.
And regardless of what anyone thinks of Machado coming out of that unfortunate incident, it should be noted that he handled himself as well as he could in the aftermath. Not only has he played well, but he also sat his suspension without opening his mouth further and left it at that. I would submit that there might well have been more than meets the eye in that incident. I can speak from experience in that I’ve flung my share of bats at people in my life when I’ve come to my wit’s end about a given situation. By that I mean that I’ve come to a point where I’ve snapped and done or said regrettable things. (No, I’ve never actually thrown a baseball bat at someone.)
Given Machado’s decorum since that time as well as how he’s played on the field, it’s probably not out of the realm of possibility that he was dealing with a personal issue at the time that was eating at him. Not that this was the fault and/or problem of Josh Donaldson or anyone on Oakland’s team, however I suppose what I’m saying is that I recognize the symptoms. In terms of his play on the field, after that incident was over it’s been like a weight was lifted off of Machado’s shoulders.
So my advice to the Orioles is to stay cool this weekend. Certainly if multiple Oriole batters start getting hit, that might need to be evaluated again, however I wouldn’t expect that to happen (neither that nor the inverse). In fact if I were the Orioles I’d tell Machado not to even talk to the media during this series, so as to not have anything misconstrued as a negative comment towards the opponent or even the fans. As I said, he’ll be boo’d royally this weekend, and that’s something he’ll have to deal with. But the less that incident is brought up or referenced by Machado and the Orioles, the better.