Every so often, we who regularly spend time with young people, whether it’s in a classroom setting or around the dinner table, would be wise to remember that they are young, capable of brilliant conduct in one moment and astoundingly silly behavior in the next.
We here in Baltimore would do well to recall that when considering the life of Manny Machado, the Orioles’ irrepressible third baseman.
In the nearly two full seasons the Miami native has been in Baltimore, Machado has treated Birds fans to some of the most remarkable fielding at the hot corner since Brooks Robinson, the greatest defensive third baseman in baseball history. And Machado’s hitting has occasionally been spectacular. He had 51 doubles last season to lead the American League in that category.
But Manny Machado is 21 years old and will not turn 22 until July 6. While other people his age are just picking up college diplomas and heading out into the real world, Machado is being paid handsomely, earning over $1 million over the course of his brief career.
Machado’s age is worth considering in light of his conduct this month, which was downright juvenile.
While running from second to third a week ago Friday, Machado was tagged aggressively by his Oakland counterpart Josh Donaldson and fell to the ground. Machado took exception to the intensity of Donaldson’s tag and let him know so. The matter seemed to be resolved.
That is, until the next day, when Machado swung and missed on a pitch. His backswing caught Oakland catcher Derek Norris on his helmet. Everyone associated with the play acknowledges that Machado didn’t mean to hit Norris. The A’s contend that Machado not only didn’t show any concern for Norris’ well being, but actually smiled a bit.
That set the stage for last Sunday’s fracas. Late in an Oakland blowout, A’s pitcher Fernando Abad threw pitches that Machado interpreted as being thrown deliberately at or near him. Machado, in turn, let the bat slip out of his hands on a swing and the bat landed down the third base line. The A’s took exception, the benches cleared and Machado was ejected.
To everyone with a discerning eye, Machado flung his bat, presumably to strike or scare Abad. He missed. No one was hurt, but that’s not for lack of trying on Machado’s part. Baseball officials suspended Machado for five games, though the penalty should have been at least twice that long. Machado is lucky that he didn’t make contact with someone. A suspension would be the least of his worries.
Combine this idiocy with Machado’s expressed unhappiness with his 2014 contract, which will pay him a meager $519,000, and you can easily get the impression that Machado is in need of a dose of reality.
Or perhaps what he really needs is what most kids get when they misbehave. Manny Machado needs a timeout.
Baseball’s prepared to give him five games, but the Orioles should add a couple more to that, just to ensure that he’s learned his lesson. Oh, and he gets no dessert either.
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