The following day after a walk-off single by Cody Bellinger during the bottom of the 13th inning to tie up the 2018 NLCS at two games apiece, you would have thought that he and the hit would have been the talk of the game.
However, that is not the case, as star shortstop Manny Machado has taken up the headlines, but not for his production. He is at the center of yet another controversy after a questionable exchange at first base with Brewers’ first baseman Jesus Aguilar in the bottom of the tenth.
Christian Yelich didn't hold back on Manny Machado 😬 pic.twitter.com/EndauHyJic
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 17, 2018
As you can see, Machado let his left foot drag a little bit longer than he should have and made contact with Aguilar’s ankle, which led to jawing happening between the two and the benches clearing, although nothing happened from there. But, because of it, the 26-year-old has brewed up yet another storm.
The Milwaukee Brewers were not happy with it because Aguilar’s ankle was in a vulnerable position and who knows what could have happened. They went as far as bringing out the “dirty” label. Brewers infielder Travis Shaw had this to say about the Machado and the incident.
“Dirty play. You saw the replay. He can say all he wants that he didn’t do it, but it’s pretty obvious he meant to do it. He’s shown it multiple times throughout his career. I mean, it’s just a dirty play. A kick to his leg right there. It was not by mistake.”
And probable National League MVP Christian Yelich also had some words.
“He is a player that has a history of those types of incidents,” Yelich told reporters. “One time is an accident. It’s repeated over and over and over again. It’s a dirty play. It’s a dirty play by a dirty player. I have a lot of respect for him as a player, but you can’t respect a guy who plays the game like that.”
If you want his full comments, here is a link to the tweet from New York Times’ James Wagner.
The “dirty” card is a serious one to play and not thrown around all that often, so when it is, one should take notice. For Machado’s sake, however, not everyone is villainizing him as much, as some are pointing out how Aguilar may have been provoking him even further after the shortstop frustratingly grounding out, by staying on the base longer than usual and taking up more of the bag than usual. First basemen are taught to pop off the bag immediately, which Aguilar failed to do.
So, Machado may have intended to merely send a message, and to his credit, he reportedly apologized, but it still does not defend Machado’s actions. You don’t want to call anyone dirty, especially the game’s stars, but, as Shaw and Yelich pointed out, the shortstop is building up a list of controversial incidents.
You have the incidents between him and the Oakland Athletics back in 2014 which began with him not liking how third baseman Josh Donaldson tagged him, so he proceeded to fall back and throw his helmet aggressively into the ground.
Later in that series, an A’s pitcher threw in on Machado which he took exception to, proceeding to throw his bat, which ended up near the third baseman. But it was obvious he wanted it to go near the pitcher, and the fact that he threw it so late when the ball had comfortably passed him, shows it was intentional.
But that’s not it. Last year, there was the feud with the Boston Red Sox that was sparked with a slide at second base which the Sox took exception to. He spiked Dustin Pedroia on the slide, and although Pedroia defused the situation, there was still bad blood between Machado and the rest of the Red Sox.
And Monday evening, Machado had two questionable slides at second base during Game 3 of the NLCS. Slides which Brewers manager Craig Counsel challenged for interference and won one of them.
It’s become a pattern of behavior that is not a good look for a player of Machado’s magnitude. He had the chance to defuse the situation during his postgame interviews, and while he did not admit to it being dirty, he did not decline the notion. When asked about his opponents calling him dirty, Machado responded, saying:
“I try to go out there and win for my team. If that’s their comments, that’s their comments. I can’t do nothing about that.”
He then continued: “You saw the replay, probably. I was trying to get over him and hit his foot. If that’s dirty, that’s dirty, I don’t know, call it what you want.”
While they were not admissions, it subtlely speaks to his intentions. Dodger great-turned-employee of the Dodgers’ Time Warner Network, Orel Hershiser, chimed in as well.
“It’s embarrassing,” Hershiser said. “It’s embarrassing to himself. It’s embarrassing to the game.”
He added: “I love him as a player. I wish he would hustle on the bases more. I wish he wouldn’t kick first basemen.”
And this comes off the heels (no pun intended) of his lack of hustle, or admission to it, during an interview with The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. He was lambasted for not hustling on a grounder he hit deep into the hole at shortstop during Game 2 of the Series, which led to an easy groundout for Milwaukee on a double-clutching throw.
During the interview, he was quoted as saying:
“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,” Machado told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. “That’s just not my personality, that’s not my cup of tea, that’s not who I am.”
The storm the shortstop has created is overshadowing what has been a compelling and tight NLCS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers and a special moment from Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger. He has become the talk of the series, and for the wrong reasons.
Machado is a pending free agent after the season ends, but this should not, and probably won’t, affect his value. However, it may cause a team or two to step back and do some extra research into the character of a guy with supposed attitude problems who tends to do some bush-league actions, and whether they want to hand out $300+ million to him.