In the 13th inning of Game 4 of the NLCS, Manny Machado singled with one out, took second base on a wild pitch and scored the winning run on Cody Bellinger’s single with a perfect slide into home plate.
Apart from that, though, Machado has been spending much of the series showing why teams shouldn’t sign him as a free agent. The Cubs probably weren’t one of those teams anyway, but after what we’ve seen from Machado this series, I’d say he’s spent it costing himself many millions of dollars with his play, or lack thereof.
First, there was his failure to run out a routine ground ball in Game 2. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic asked Machado about it, and got this very illuminating answer. I reproduce the question and response here in their entirety:
Here are my question and Machado’s answer, edited slightly for length and clarity.
Whenever I see you and ask you how you’re doing, you say, ‘I’m chillin.’ I know that’s your personality, that’s how you are. But there was a ball the other night, and you didn’t run hard. Manny, you know this, at this time of year people notice that kind of thing, so how would you explain it? What happened?
Machado: “Uhhh … (pause) … I’ve been thinking about it and it happens every time, there’s no excuse for it honestly. I’ve never given excuses for not running. I’m not hurt, there’s no excuse but I’ve been the same player … I’ve been doing this for eight years, I’m in The Show for eight years, I’ve done the same thing for eight years, I’ve been the same player. (Machado actually just completed his seventh season.)
“Obviously I’m not going to change, I’m not the type of player that’s going to be ‘Johnny Hustle,’ and run down the line and slide to first base and … you know, whatever can happen. That’s just not my personality, that’s not my cup of tea, that’s not who I am.
“Should I have run on that pitch? Yeah … but I didn’t and I gotta pay the consequences for it. It does look bad. It looks terrible. I look back at the video and I’m like, ‘Woah, what was I doing?’ You know, just the emotions of the game … I’m the type of player that has stayed in the zone, I’m playing and I’m just in the zone.
“On 3-0, I’m trying to drive one out. I hit a 100 mph groundball (actually 76 mph) right into the shift, right to the shortstop … before I even step out of the box, I look to the shortstop, he has the ball in his hands and I’m like, ‘I’m out.’ … I mean, what am I going to do?
“Should I have given it a little more effort? One hundred percent. (It’s) my fault like always, I mean that’s just my mentality when I’m in the game. (There are) things that you learn, things that you gotta change. I’ve tried changing it for eight years and I still can’t figure it out but, one of these days I will.”
How often have we heard “Respect 90” from Joe Maddon? I mean... it’s the name of his charitable foundation. There aren’t too many requirements from Maddon of his players, but respecting the game and hustling are definitely two of them. I don’t see Machado as someone who’d fit in with this group, based on those statements.
That’s not the only thing that Machado has done during the NLCS that, for me, calls into question the type of player he is.
Machado asks for time, doesn’t get it, and watches a called strike three from Corbin Burnes go right down the middle of the plate. Then he nearly gets himself tossed — you can see Dodgers manager Dave Roberts rushing out to protect his player.
This isn’t something that someone who’s focused on the game does. Plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt was absolutely correct in not granting time to Machado, and indeed, Machado is no Chris Coghlan [VIDEO].
I’m sure you all remember that play from 2016.
Lastly, Machado did this [VIDEO] to Jesus Aguilar on a play at first base in the 10th inning of Game 4.
I’ll just let the Brewers players and manager tell you about that:
Christian Yelich on Manny Machado: "He’s a player that has a history of those types of incidents. One time is an accident. Repeating it over and over and over again, you’re just a dirty play. It’s a dirty play by a dirty player."— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) October 17, 2018
Travis Shaw on the Machado play at first:— Zach Heilprin (@ZachHeilprin) October 17, 2018
It’s a dirty play. He can say whatever he wants. It was dirty.
Counsell on if Manny Machado has gone beyond the bounds of playing hard: “I don’t think he’s playing all that hard,” Counsell said.— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) October 17, 2018
That’s a pretty sick burn from Craig Counsell. Lastly:
One of the @Brewers players told me that while it was good to hear Manny Machado apologized to Jesus Aguilar, Machado needs to realize that he is known as a dirty ball player who needs to clean up his reputation.— Pedro Gomez (@pedrogomezESPN) October 17, 2018
There was a slide made by Machado in Game 3 [VIDEO] that also didn’t make the Brewers happy.
You can see Machado go way out of his way on that slide and the Brewers wound up with a double play as a result, after review. And Orioles Hall of Famer Jim Palmer also noticed Machado’s lack of hustle on that play in Game 2:
There is no question that Manny Machado is a very talented baseball player who puts up big numbers: .297/.367/.538 this year with 37 home runs and 14 stolen bases combined between the Orioles and Dodgers, and 5.7 bWAR.
I just don’t think it’s worth all the negatives he brings. Imagine Manny doing these kinds of things for the Yankees — the New York media would eat him alive. He just doesn’t seem to be the right kind of fit for the Cubs, despite his close friendship with Albert Almora Jr.
The Cubs can better spend their money elsewhere.
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