Baseless Bad Blood in Beantown

By Ryan Decker

Manny Machado knows it wasn’t a dirty slide. Baltimore Orioles fans know it wasn’t a dirty slide. Dustin Pedroia knows it wasn’t a dirty slide, too.

The rest of the Boston Red Sox team, and much of their fans, are kidding themselves.

Worst of all, they’ve convinced everyone else otherwise.

Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 10.50.52 PM
Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (right) attempts to hold up Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (left) after spiking him with his cleat during a game on April 21. The slide, which had no intent of being a dirty play, has been the focal point of the season series between the two clubs.   Photo via Getty Images / Sporting News

 

 

 

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and chief baseball operator, Joe Torre, were both part of a conference call prior to Wednesday’s game between Baltimore and Boston, hoping to settle the dust between the two AL East clubs.

Included in the conference call were the managers and general managers of both teams.

In short, everyone in the stadium should’ve had to join. Every player, coach, umpire, and every fan in attendance.

For a play that clearly had no intent of being dirty, Boston players have sure taken offense to it.

Reliever Matt Barnes threw behind Machado’s head two days after the incident. It was tasteless, but things should’ve ended there.

Of course, they didn’t.

Chris Sale, who’s in his first season with the Red Sox and didn’t pitch during the previous series between the two clubs where the slide in question took place, then threw wildly (and intentionally) behind Machado on Tuesday.

Sale wasn’t ejected but, according to reports, is expected to be disciplined by the league for his action.

That is what led to the conference call; a warning for both clubs to get their act together. Again, the umpires should’ve been on the call.

There were no pregame warnings issued by the league or the umpires. Yet just hours after Joe Torre said, “I just don’t want guys walking on eggs,” home plate umpire Sam Holbrook smashed the eggs on the ground, ejecting Kevin Gausman in the second inning when a breaking ball plunked Xander Bogaerts.

It’s easy to see in the video that there wasn’t any intent by Gausman; simply a curveball on a cold night that got away from him. Jim Palmer said on the MASN broadcast it was the first breaking ball he’d thrown that game.

Even the Boston-affiliated NESN broadcast crew said right away it was an awful decision by Holbrook to make the ejection.

How can he eject Gausman for that when there weren’t any warnings issued Wednesday, especially a day after Sale wasn’t ejected Tuesday when there were also no warnings issued beforehand? It happens when an umpire tries to gain control of a situation that has been trumped up by everyone but the two people that “started” it.

 

The four-game-series finale is scheduled for this evening. There’s no doubt that once again emotions will be high. Every inside pitch will have its intent questioned by someone from the other side.

It’s probably a good thing the two teams don’t square off again until June 1. It’ll give both sides time to cool off.

Hopefully by that point, the narrative surrounding the series will be a pair of talented teams battling for position in the division, and not stuck on a slide into second base that occurred in late April.

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4 comments

  1. The problem with the slide was the combination of Machado starting it late and him ending it with his cleats up. Forget Pedroia’s surgically repaired knee. Anyone covering the bag risked getting hurt because of the late slide/cleats up combo. As an infielder himself, Machado knows better. That said, the Sox aftermath was clearly over the top.

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  2. This piece is heavily biased and lacking most of the facts. Bottom line is the Sox have had TWO players HIT and one spiked while the O’s had two warning pitches. But I’m sure it’s somehow the Sox’ fault.

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  3. Saying Barnes meant to throw at somebody’s head is ludicrous. It is the same situation as the slide. Hitting a batter seems to only matter if it is the Orioles being hit … but wait, they didn’t get hit (?!?!). The ball that almost hit Benintendi’s head was not on purpose? Why not? Who throws at somebody’s head?!? A bad pitch is only a bad pitch if the Sox make it, huh?? POOR LOGIC. The best you can say is Barnes meant to hit Machado, but the ball went too high, like Machado’s spikes. Stop being media nazis and report the sports news. We don’t need you to create it.

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