Orioles Twitter was all, ahem, atwitter Tuesday evening after a Manny Machado article was published on Sports Illustrated. In it, the former Oriole star appears to throw shade towards the organization that drafted and developed him.
“The Dodgers last year, they showed me some love,” he says to Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein. “The Orioles drafted me. I did a lot for that community, I did a lot for the state, and they didn’t show me a bit of love. It is what it is. But going over to L.A., L.A. giving up a lot of prospects for me, that kind of shows you what I meant to them, which is amazing.”
That’s a tough quote to accept if you’re an Orioles fan who cheered on Machado every day for seven years. Nine, if you include the minor leagues.
From his debut through 2017, fans in Baltimore cheered on Machado unconditionally, through “controversies” about his hustle, aggressive slides, insistence on playing shortstop, and more. Fans also held out hope for an eventual extension to keep their most talented player in charm city for his entire career, a franchise tradition since the days of Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer and Cal Ripken, Jr.
Instead, fans read reports of the front office being unwilling to commit to the level of contract Machado sought, and by 2018, when it became obvious the Orioles weren’t going to be competitive again before his free agency, everyone knew a trade was on the horizon.
Apstein points out in her article that Machado “saw the July trade [from the Orioles to the Dodgers] as a referendum on who wanted him.”
It’s a little confusing, as every baseball fan in America knew at that point the Orioles had no choice but to trade their star. It would have been malpractice to allow Machado to play out his final weeks in Baltimore on a 115-loss team without getting anything in return.
Machado’s quote reads like a referendum on Orioles fans, which is why most were so taken aback by his words, but the story’s author feels it was directed solely at the front office.
.@stephapstein on if she feels Machado was directing #Orioles ire to lack of ext.: "That was my understanding. I think the trade cut him pretty deep. I think it was important for him to feel wanted by the [org.], and I'm not sure he felt that here as much as he should have."— Glenn Clark (@GlennClarkRadio) February 27, 2019
This stance would be a bit more understandable, as management did bungle contract negotiations. Reports came out that the two sides were a mere $10 million apart in negotiations, an entirely affordable number for an owner as rich as Peter Angelos. Instead, the team remained stubborn, committed too much money to an aging first baseman, and painted themselves into a corner with the most talented player in franchise history.
We’ve seen that Machado doesn’t always deftly get across his criticisms, a pattern highlighted by his “Johnny Hustle” comments in Los Angeles. It’s highly likely that’s what’s happening now, and he really does appreciate the fans in Baltimore.
Machado deserves to be annoyed with the Orioles front office, especially when it comes to the lack of an extension, and if that’s all he was implying, then fans in Baltimore have no reason to be upset with him (and every reason to be upset with the previous regime).
But to point out how much he gave the community in Baltimore and then say “they didn’t show [him] a little bit of love” is unfair, and only ends up frustrating the same fans who never stop caring about him, even if it seems clear that wasn’t his intention.
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