Between his massive contract, spotlight in the playoffs and a comment that set MLB discussion ablaze last year, Manny Machado has quickly become one of the most divisive players in baseball.
All season, the San Diego Padres’ new third-baseman has been greeted with boos at every ballpark he’s visited on the road. Machado is well aware of his new reputation, acknowledging that he “always will be the villain, no matter what” in a March interview.
While we know what has led to this point, at least one of Machado’s former teammates is questioning if his villain reputation is fair.
Adam Jones calls out criticism of Manny Machado
While talking with The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan, Jones had some strong words for how Machado is treated by fans and media:
This game long has had a bad history of using specific words to describe white players and other words to describe non-white players. Do you think Manny’s reputation would be different if he were white?
One hundred percent. One hundred percent. One hundred percent. We know that, because some players are called grinders and other players are called something else. Some players are called pouting, other players are called passionate. It’s all about how you word it. My wife’s a lawyer. She told me a long time ago that everything is about how you word it. And how you word it is important. It’s like how you write a headline — most people nowadays see the headline and react off the headline. They don’t care about the thousands of words you guys put into the actual article. They just care about the headline. We just want clicks. I get it. Trust me, it drives money, it’s the market. I completely understand it. It sucks that certain words are used to describe certain players and certain words are used to describe others.
Jones also clarified the he doesn’t agree with the idea that Machado is a dirty player.
When you encounter someone who says Manny is a dirty player, do you correct them?
He’s not a dirty player. He’s done things that people don’t agree with on the field, mainly the outside world. I haven’t seen every single thing that people want to harp on, because I do have a life outside of baseball. When the playoffs are going on, it depends on the time of the game because I’ve got kids and they require attention like all kids do. People always have an opinion on the guy, on everybody. But one thing about him is I’d take him hitting in front of me, hitting behind me. He can take my spot. I want him on my team.
Some of those “things that people don’t agree with” include a moment in the NLCS last year when Machado seemed to kick Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar as he ran through first base, leading to the full villain treatment from Brewers fans.
Another one came against Jones’ D-backs, in which Machado seemed to lightly bump catcher John Ryan Murphy while running out of the batter’s box and dropped his bat behind Murphy’s feet. Murphy dropped an easy pop fly.
D-backs announcer Bob Brenly was incensed by the incident, repeatedly calling Machado “bush league” and openly looking forward to when a player would attack Machado.
“Machado, one day, is gonna pull one of his hijinks on the wrong guy and he’s gonna get dropped in his tracks, and he’s gonna deserve it,” Brenly said.
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