Drellich: Has Machado's status as a Boston villain been forgotten?

Evan Drellich
NBC Sports Boston

BOSTON -- Shouldn't Red Sox fans be slightly more revolted by the farfetched idea of Manny Machado in a Red Sox uniform? 

Fans do seem pretty dismissive of the idea of Machado landing in Boston. But not because of Machado's history with the Sox. Fans, surprisingly, seem in tune with more rational reasoning, such as the Sox' thin farm system.

Machado is a great player. Great players change jerseys, and fans root for the laundry. Most Sox fans would not turn Machado away if the Sox somehow got a deal done. (They won't.) 

But when the curtains have gone up at Fenway in the last 15 months, Machado has played the villain better than most. Shouldn't there be a segment of Sox Nation that can't stand the idea of seeing this great player defect?

There was Machado's expletive-laden rant of 2017, where he said he lost respect for everyone in the Red Sox organization. But really, the event that precipitated it all -- the slide that hurt Dustin Pedroia's left knee last year -- may go down as the turning point of Pedroia's career.

Machado-to-the-Sox rumors cropped up Tuesday, the same day that Alex Cora announced Pedroia would continue his rehab in Arizona. It seems an appropriate time to recall the damage Machado did sliding into Pedroia last season, regardless of Machado's intent. (Machado said he intended no harm.)

Pedroia did so much to downplay the moment, to defuse a tense situation, that Machado's real impact on a star Red Sox player's career may have been brushed aside.

"I never felt anything [before] but that slide it felt weird like a pop and that was cartilage tearing off my tibia so once that happened there was no forgiving, it was just bone on bone and it was pretty tough," Pedroia told The Athletic's Jen McCaffrey in May.

Wrote McCaffrey: While the hole in the cartilage had likely always been there, the controversial slide from Baltimore's Manny Machado while Pedroia was covering second base last April was a dividing line. That slide tore cartilage off the tibia and created the separate injury and the need for microfracture surgery.

Maybe the slide's place in Sox history will become clearer over time. Pedroia's future is completely unknown at this point. Machado isn't the sole reason Pedroia's knee is in jeopardy -- but since when did fans care about such nuance?

Machado did something that negatively impacted a major Red Sox player. Then he cursed out the Red Sox after Chris Sale threw at him. Ho hum?

The talk is all moot anyway, for reasons most fans understand.

There's nothing unusual about the Sox checking in on Machado, seeing where his price point stands. And the Sox have checked in, per multiple reports on Tuesday. 

Baseball sources that spoke to NBC Sports Boston downplayed the idea the Sox are really pursuing him, however.

It's just logic: Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts have the left side of the infield locked down. The Sox' farm is thin and they have other needs, namely a reliever. A rival general manager this week suggested the Red Sox appear set in terms of position players. They have the best offense in the majors to this point, if the average number of runs scored per game is a fair indicator.

The timing of reports of the Sox' interest leaking out seems highly favorable to the Orioles, given reports have also surfaced that the Yankees want Machado. An old-fashioned Yankees-Sox bidding war may be Baltimore's goal. Or at least, the facade of one.

Machado might fit well in a Yankees uniform. In Boston, there's reason to root against the guy already.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

What to Read Next