Manny Machado's comments after Pirates drama shows Padres have gone soft

Where's that trademark "Manny Machado" fire?
Pittsburgh Pirates v San Diego Padres
Pittsburgh Pirates v San Diego Padres / Denis Poroy/GettyImages

The San Diego Padres have had as close a season to "massive disappointment" as a contender possibly could. They sit at 49-53 despite making massive upgrades over the past year, while the Los Angeles Dodgers lead the NL West at 58-42 after retooling and cutting costs in the offseason.

Not only that, but they lack the flair and energy necessary to dig out of this hole and remind the baseball world who has one of the most talent rosters in the entire league.

Perhaps no situation was more emblematic of the Padres' loss of fiery character than Tuesday night's incident with the Pittsburgh Pirates, though.

San Diego held a one-run lead heading into the bottom of the seventh, when Juan Soto cranked a 418-foot solo homer off Pittsburgh reliever Angel Perdomo. The very next batter, Manny Machado, took a 98 MPH fastball to the back in what couldn't have been a more obvious act of retaliation. It came on Perdomo's very fist pitch of the at-bat.

We're not sitting here and condoning a benches-clearing brawl, but the Padres said/did absolutely nothing as Perdomo stared down Machado after plunking him. Perdomo and Pirates manager Derek Shelton were ejected after the umpires convened and agreed that was the right move.

Have Padres gone soft after refusing to retaliate against the Pirates?

The Pads obviously can't afford any suspensions, so it was smart of them to not physically engage, but nobody had anything to say? Machado didn't feel the need to defend himself with stern words? No teammates had his back? No meaningless bench player was willing to put it all on the line to defend his team's honor?

Machado claimed in the postgame that he's "matured a little bit in some way, shape or form" when explaining why he didn't seek retribution, and then said things might've been different if this occurred a couple years earlier.

But this seems like a swing-too-far in the other direction 180 for Machado, who just two seasons ago almost blew the top of his head off yelling at teammate Fernando Tatis Jr. for getting ejected and costing his team the game. This is the same Machado who famously stepped on players running to first base as a member of the Dodgers, which eventually made him one of the most hated players in the league. This is the same Machado who, after defecting to the Padres, bet a Dodgers fan that San Diego would win a World Series before LA.

Nothing to say in the moment? Good on Machado for maturing, but it seems he lost some of his valuable competitive edge in doing so, if we're to determine anything from his actions and postgame responses.

Maybe the Clayton Kershaw troll on the Petco Park video board now has the Padres spooked, because that was the moment their season started to spiral.

But if any Dodgers fan were to advise, the Padres certainly need to rediscover some of their aggressiveness or they'll continue to be walked all over, which has been the case ever since they fell to the Phillies in last year's NLCS. Because it was certainly a bad look the Padres lost to the Pirates the very next day to drop the series and fall to 6-7 after the All-Star break.