Former Oriole Manny Machado is 8-for-27 (.296) with three homers and nine RBIs in seven playoff games for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He’s had some big swings and made some outstanding plays in the field.
But he was in the news during Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday for the wrong reason. For not running hard to first base on a ground ball to the right of Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia.
Machado jogged to first base and broadcaster Joe Buck called him out twice for it. He said, “Machado’s not running,” and seconds later said, “Machado didn’t hustle.”
It was there for everyone to see - including Orioles fans who had seen it before. In June, Machado apologized for not running hard on a double play grounder. He was booed by fans at Camden Yards and pledged to not do it again. But then he did. In a playoff game.
Machado got called out throughout the Twitter universe for his jog to the bag.
And those teams might be asking: if that is the effort now, what might it be $300M guaranteed from now? https://t.co/UbHPuZd6Kk-- Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) October 13, 2018
The Orioles seemed to let Machado get away with this at times during his career in Baltimore. We say “seemed to” since we can’t know what went on behind the scenes. But it didn’t stop during his time with the Orioles and it continued with Los Angeles, even in a 0-0 postseason game.
Are we making too much of this? Probably. Should it be overlooked? Probably not.
Will it cost Machado any money this winter? My take is no, it won’t. Machado is far from the only player to ever not run hard on a groundout. Far from it. That doesn’t make it right. Adam Jones almost always runs it out. Chris Davis often did, too. Manny didn’t always do so.
But when it comes to sports, things get overlooked. The bigger the talent, the more you can get away with. In the grand scheme, not running out a grounder pales to much more serious matters involving something where a player gets suspended or arrested.
But it’s not a good look and everyone is watching in a postseason game. I still expect Machado to break the bank this winter and get a huge deal - one that could be north of $300 million. He’s an All-Star talent that can play a premium position and is just 26. That will overcome the fact he doesn’t always hustle. He’s not the perfect player, but he is still one of the best players.
His payday is likely coming. He will probably be a great player for whichever he is with in 2019. He just may not hustle as much as you’d like him too.