The unwritten rules of baseball have reared their ugly head again, and as always, they’ve made a situation worse.
Late in Boston’s 6-2 victory at Baltimore, Orioles’ star Manny Machado stepped in against Matt Barnes and barely dodged a fastball gunning right for his head.
The ball actually hit the back of Machado’s bat before bouncing off. It fooled more than a few people into thinking the pitch actually hit him. Machado took first base while the umps huddled up and decided what to do.
First, they kicked Barnes out of the game. Then they ruled that Machado wasn’t actually hit — the right call. If you’re scoring at home, that meant Barnes was technically ejected over a foul ball.
This, of course, was obvious retribution for Machado’s hard slid into second base Friday night that caused his spikes to go straight into the back of Dustin Pedroia’s leg.
It seemed like a case of some harm, no foul. Machado wasn’t punished and, thankfully, Pedroia wasn’t seriously hurt. Yet some in Boston clubhouse clearly weren’t ready to move on. After the game, it was reported that members of the Red Sox were rewatching the play frame-by-frame, which seemed like a sign that retaliation was coming.
Nothing happened on Saturday, so it appeared Boston was moving on, but on Sunday we learned not everyone on the Red Sox was ready to do so.
As Machado was waiting to step back into the batter’s box, Pedroia tried to get his attention from the Boston dugout to clear a few things up.
Here's Pedroia/Machado exchange, initiated by Pedroia, after Matt Barnes was ejected for throwing at Machado's head: pic.twitter.com/qp5SNYOwwy
— Danny Picard (@DannyPicard) April 23, 2017
Fascinating exchange captured by MASN between Machado and Pedroia. Dustin clearly saying "It wasn't me. I know that and you know that." pic.twitter.com/oqdt827ER9
— Dave Tucker (@TestudoDave) April 23, 2017
There’s a lot going on here. What we can tell unequivocally is that Pedroia was trying to tell Machado that the wild pitch wasn’t his idea.
“I know that and you know that.” Pedroia says to a shaken Machado.
That sentiment carried over postgame where Pedroia tried his best to ease the tension. Speaking to the media, Pedroia said the whole thing was mishandled. He also texted Machado immediately, though Machado didn’t divulge what was said.
Dustin Pedroia's full thoughts: pic.twitter.com/CD1m40xlKa
— Brian MacPherson (@brianmacp) April 23, 2017
So Dustin Pedroia has apologized and said he loves Manny Machado. Matt Barnes apologized. Machado today: "I thought I made a good slide."
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) April 23, 2017
Understandably, Machado didn’t seem all that OK with the situation, even after Pedroia tried calming things down.
Machado: I’m the villain. It's always me, Manny always does something wrong. It’s never me. I …play a game I love & leave it on the field.
— Dan Connolly (@danconnolly2016) April 23, 2017
He went on to tell reporters that “whatever is going on with that side is up to them.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter, meanwhile, commended his team’s “courage” in not escalating things further.
Maybe things will cool down in the next few days, but Machado acknowledged that these two teams can’t avoid each other for long.
“We’re going to keep playing,” Machado said. “We’re going to have to cross paths with them again. They’re the team to beat.”
He’s not wrong. The Orioles have a four-game series in Boston starting a week from Monday.
We’ll have to wait and see if things can really calm down or if unwritten rules call for more.
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