Dodgers: Manny Machado’s Antics Are Good for Baseball

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LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 16: Manny Machado #8 of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Jesus Aguilar #24 of the Milwaukee Brewers exchange words during the tenth inning in Game Four of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 16, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 16: Manny Machado #8 of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Jesus Aguilar #24 of the Milwaukee Brewers exchange words during the tenth inning in Game Four of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 16, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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The Dodgers enter Friday one game away from their second consecutive National League pennant. In these games everything is magnified. After some controversial plays, Manny Machado has found himself under that magnifying glass. More and more people are begging the question; is Manny Machado bad for baseball?

Manny Machado is just 26-years-old. Yet, he is already getting some pretty harsh labels for his “antics” as of late. In an interview with Ken Rosenthal, Machado said “I’m not the type of player that’s going to be Johnny Hustle”. That immediately sparked outrage with many members of the media and former players.

All the things that we were taught when we played youth baseball, is exactly the opposite of what Manny Machado does on the field. He hits a groundball he gives a brisk jog down the line, rather than a hard sprint. Sometimes in the batter’s box he can be a “diva” when it comes to the strike zone.

People were always critical of his lack of hustle on the diamond. However, these comments just added gasoline to the fire. He openly admitted that he does not hustle because it is “not his cup of tea”. As an employer that is not something you want to hear from your employee.

Despite all of this, this man is going to get paid. Maybe for an average player, saying you don’t like running out ground balls among other things is bad. But, Manny Machado is not your typical player. He is a bonafide star, in a sport lacking star power.

Baseball is not the same sport it was a decade ago. Analytics and moneyball have taken over the sport. Maybe, if Machado was playing during that time he would not and should not get away with his actions and words. Manny Machado is a part of the revolution to bring baseball back to the main stream.

Often times, players in the MLB are seen as robots. The best player in the MLB, Mike Trout hardly gets any mainstream media attention. There have been few players to get people talking the way Machado has lately. Aaron Judge is the only name that comes to mind when talking about players who have recently garnered the attention of main stream media on shows like The Herd and First Take.

Though, some people may not agree with his thought process, he is getting people talking about baseball. It does help that he is playing in Los Angeles and not Baltimore, but he has them talking nonetheless.

Baseball is a marathon not a sprint. So I can forgive Machado for not sprinting down the line on routine groundballs. These are major leaguers, errors happen but they are far and few between (unless Grandal is catching).

I respect the fact that he is blunt about his personality. He does not dodge the question (or Aguilar’s leg) and hits it straight on (just like Aguilar’s leg). He tells people, he is who he is and he will not change just because everyone is just now starting to take notice.

I understand, that it is the playoffs and jogging down the line on double plays does not look well on the surface, but if you dig deeper you could start to understand his thought process. Machado picks and chooses when to “hustle”. Game 4 of the NLCS is a prime example. Advancing to second base on a ball in the dirt and scoring from second on a hard hit ground ball.

Machado is not going to risk possible harm to his body (or money) on plays that are made 99% of the time. He understands his place, and injuring himself running out a routine groundball in the 2nd inning of game 2 of the NLCS is not just bad for him but, bad for the Dodgers. He is being smart with his body. Maybe that isn’t the “right” way to play the game in some people’s eyes but it is Machado’s way and that’s all that matters to the young shortstop.

Now for his shady antics. He has made some head scratching plays when he was ironically running hard. The first two came on slides into second base. In an attempt to break up a double play he reached at the legs of Arcia. The second came as he was “running” down the line and seemingly let his leg hang down and clip the leg of first baseman Jesus Aguilar.

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He just cannot catch a break. So on one hand he is not playing the game hard enough. On the other hand he is playing the game to hard. For many years up until Chase Utley lit up Ruben Tejada of the Mets, these slides were considered hard-nosed and great hustle plays. Now they are seen as dirty.

The situation at first base just seemed to be a lapse of judgment by a frustrated 26-year-old. Machado could have and should have avoided hitting Aguilar. This is something that is being made much bigger than it actually was. He knows Aguilar, and understands his big frame would not be hurt by a kick to his meaty calf.

Aguilar was partially at fault for keeping his leg on half of the base well after the out was recorded. Machado could have avoided him, yes, but Aguilar should have never put himself in that situation in the first place. Machado apologized to Aguilar but his teammates were still up in arms even though Aguilar was over it. This was a mistake on Machado’s part, but not nearly to the scale that people are suggesting.

Next. The last Dodger team to make back to back WS appearances. dark

Manny Machado is himself and is not shy to let people know. That is something that is needed in the very vanilla sport of baseball. He is a player that draws attention from everywhere and that in of itself makes him good for baseball.

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