It feels by now that we’re into day 872 of the feud between the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox. But it’s been less than two weeks since an errant slide from Manny Machado set off the whole ordeal, which somehow just keeps on escalating.
This feud may have started over Machado’s slide, but it’s about a lot more than that now. And so much has happened between these two teams over the last two weeks that it’s hard to keep it all straight. To help, here’s a timeline of what’s gone down between the Red Sox and Orioles:
April 21 — Manny Machado spikes Dustin Pedroia on a slide into second base
In the eighth inning of the April 21 game between the Red Sox and the O’s, Manny Machado slid into second base, and his spikes caught Dustin Pedroia on the calf. After an umpire review, the famous Chase Utley slide rule wasn’t invoked, and no one was ejected. But the Red Sox were upset at what they viewed as a late and reckless slide from Machado. For his part, Machado didn’t think he’d done anything wrong, and denied that he tried to hurt Pedroia with his slide. And Pedroia, a veteran who has spent 12 years playing second base, didn’t think there was anything wrong with the slide, either.
April 23 — Matt Barnes throws at Manny Machado’s head
A full game had gone by with no incident, so it seemed like the whole incident would pass without any additional posturing. But apparently in the Red Sox clubhouse, players were reviewing Machado’s slide over and over, frame-by-frame, so they definitely weren’t over it. And that’s when things got intentionally dangerous. Two days after Machado’s aggressive-but-not-malicious slide accidentally spiked Dustin Pedroia, reliever Matt Barnes retaliated. In the eighth inning, Barnes sent a fastball right at Machado’s head. Machado thankfully dodged it (the ball bounced off his bat, which initially made it look like it had hit him, but it hadn’t), and Barnes was ejected. Barnes would later say that the pitch wasn’t intentional.
April 23 — Dustin Pedroia says he wasn’t involved in the throw at Manny Machado’s head
After Barnes threw at Machado’s head, Dustin Pedroia seemed to know that things were about to get really out of hand. He tried to get Machado’s attention later in the game when he was in the on-deck circle, to let him know that Barnes’ attempted head shot wasn’t Pedroia’s idea. There was a lot of silent mouthing of words and big arm motions, and Machado seemed to get the message. But if he didn’t get it then, Pedroia made sure Manny would get it eventually. He texted Machado right after the incident, and made postgame remarks where he denied any involvement in Barnes’ throw at Machado’s head.
April 24 — Matt Barnes suspended four games
MLB couldn’t ignore a pitcher throwing at a batter’s head. A day after Barnes threw at Machado’s head, MLB suspended him for four games and fined him an undisclosed amount of money.
May 1 — Manny Machado gets booed at Fenway Park, is awesome anyway
Even though a full week had passed since the Orioles and Red Sox had played each other, it was no surprise to anyone that Manny Machado was lustily booed at Fenway when he stepped in for his first at-bat. If the boos mattered to Machado, he didn’t show it. In fact, he had an amazing night, feeding off the boos by showing off his bat and his glove. He took a slightly longer than normal trot around the bases after his mammoth solo shot, which the Red Sox probably noticed.
May 1 — Dylan Bundy hits Mookie Betts
It felt like everything could be over. Barnes had meted out the incredibly dangerous “punishment” to Machado by throwing at his head, and everyone was even. Right? Nope. In the sixth inning of Monday’s series opener, Orioles pitcher Dylan Bundy hit Mookie Betts on the hip. Bundy does have some plausible deniability here, since he’d walked four batters leading up to the Betts plunking and hadn’t been locating well. But it didn’t really matter if Bundy meant to do it or not, because it happened either way, adding more fuel to the fire of this feud.
May 2 — Chris Sale throws behind Manny Machado
In the first inning of Tuesday’s game, Sale threw behind Machado. He didn’t aim for his head, but threw the ball right behind Machado’s knees. It’s hard to know what this was in retaliation for. It could have been for the slide from over a week ago. It could have been retaliation for Dylan Bundy hitting Betts the game before. At this point, so much has happened between these two teams that it could be anything.
May 2 — Manny Machado has enough of Boston’s antics, goes on profanity-laced tirade
After Machado was thrown at for the second time in nine days, he was understandably upset. He was upset at the Red Sox for STILL not letting that slide go, and for continuing to intentionally put him in danger by throwing at him. He was upset at the umpires for not doing anything about it. And he was upset at MLB for continuing to allow it to happen. And he let it all out after Tuesday’s game in a torrent of angry, passionate words (more than a few of which were curses). He’d understandably had it with the Red Sox.
If the Red Sox and Orioles played each other less, something tells me the whole thing would have ended not long after it started. But they both play in the AL East, which means they face off 19 times a year. With the two teams playing each other that much, there are a lot of opportunities for feelings to fester and escalate, and that’s exactly what happened. Machado’s slide on April 21 was aggressive, but almost definitely not malicious. And the (ridiculously dangerous) “punishment” was meted out. But the two teams played each other again with just a week in between, and that obviously wasn’t enough time for the Red Sox (or Chris Sale, at least) to cool off.
The Red Sox and Orioles have two more games left to finish out their four-game series, and then they don’t face each other again for a month. Maybe that’ll be enough time for the Red Sox to get a little distance and clarity on things. But something tells me this beef still isn’t over. Baseball players are like elephants: they never forget.
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