Machado needs to keep his emotions in check
Bat throw, boorish behavior could hinder rise of Orioles young star
A bit of advice for Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado: take a deep breath and relax.
Machado is one of the game's rising superstars. Four weeks shy of his 22nd birthday, he has dazzled young and old alike with his defensive skills and he has shown impressive offensive potential.
A year ago, Machado's first full season in the big leagues, he not only made his first All-Star team, but won his first Gold Glove, and for the number-crunching crowd, his 6.4 WAR was the 10th best in the American League.
This year, though, Machado is also showing an emotional side that for his sake he has to get under control, and he needs to do it quickly before he becomes tagged with a bad rap for his boorish behavior.
It was one thing on Friday night when Machado took exception to what he felt was too hard a tag by Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson, but it was quite another on Sunday afternoon when it appeared to the umpires and the A's that after being nearly hit by a pitch from reliever Fernando Abad in the eighth inning Machado let his bat fly in the direction of third baseman Alberto Callaspo.
That came in a game in which earlier, Machado twice hit A's catcher Derek Norris in the head with his back swing, the second time, in the sixth inning, resulting in Norris being removed from the game. Witnesses claim that Machado smiled about the backswing.
The Orioles can dispute that.
What can't be disputed is the danger of the bat throw.
And what can't be ignored is that baseball is going to feel a need to discipline Machado with a suspension -- probably a week -- and a fine which could be in the $50,000 range.
A statement has to be made and it has to make an impression on Machado, who has the potential to be a baseball icon if he allows himself to be one.
Now this isn't Giants pitcher Juan Marichal turning around and hitting Dodgers catcher Johnny Roseboro twice over the head with a bat -- during an Aug. 25, 1965 game. Marichal was fined $1,750 and suspended for eight days. That $1,750 might not seem like a lot in modern terms, but it was roughly 10 percent of the average salary in 1965.
And it's not like Campy Campaneris of the Oakland A's flinging his bat at Detroit pitcher Lerrin LeGrow after LeGrow hit Campaneris in the left ankle with a pitch to lead off the seventh inning of Game 2 of the 1972 AL Championship Series. Campaneris was suspended for the final three games of the ALCS (but not the seven-game World Series in which the A's beat the Reds) and the first week of the 1973 season, and fined $500.
But it is more concerning than Game 2 of the 2000 World Series when Yankees right-hander Roger Clemens picked up the end of Mets catcher Mike Piazza's shattered bat and flung it in the direction of Piazza. Clemens wasn't ejected. He wasn't suspended. Clemens was, however, fined $50,000.
And it is a lot bigger an issue than when Ted Williams, frustrated at striking out in a Sept, 22, 1958 game, flung his bat, which went into the stands and hit Gladys Hefferman, the cleaning lady for Red Sox general manager Joe Cronin.
Society has changed.
There is a feeling that individuals shouldn't be stifled. That they should be allowed to express themselves.
Nobody will deny that.
They, however, have to control their emotions.
It's a responsibility that can't be ignored, particularly not by an athlete, whose skills put him on center stage.
Like it or not, athletes are role models.
It comes with the territory.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.