Boston Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes nearly killed the Orioles’ Manny Machado Sunday night, becoming just the latest big leaguer to imperil a fellow player’s life and livelihood in a moronic attempt to defend a teammate. This rampant stupidity needs to stop, and hats off to Dustin Pedroia’s for responding accordingly.
You’ve no doubt seen the highlight from Sunday’s Red Sox-Orioles game by now, of Machado ducking as Barnes’ fastball whistles behind his head, strikes his bat and rolls away harmlessly — mercifully — foul. The pitch was payback for an incident during Friday night’s game, when Machado slid late and with spikes high into second base, causing his cleats to drive right into the back of Pedroia’s calf, tweaking his ankle and surgically repaired knee. It was definitely an unsavory act, and Pedroia has missed two games since, but it was hardly life-threatening and it was plausibly accidental.
But even if Machado had gone in with malice aforethought, rather than just overly eager to break up a double play the 8th inning of a close game, it didn’t warrant a fastball to the head. And so it came as a relief when Machado came to the plate four times on Saturday without incident. But some members of the Red Sox apparently weren’t satisfied, and so, come Sunday, with the Sox up 6-0 in the 6th, Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez fired three heaters at Machado’s feet before walking him. It was an appropriate way to make clear that Machado needed to check himself in the future. If only that had been the end of it. But Barnes clearly felt justice had not yet been done.
Pedroia should be commended for his reaction to Barnes’ macho BS, whistling for Machado’s attention immediately after the errant pitch and then yelling to him “it’s not me. If I wanted to do something, I would have hit you the first time.” And when Machado motioned to his head to underline the potential danger, Pedroia agreed, apparently yelling “that’s bulls–t….I know that. You know that. It’s not me. It’s them.”
What a fascinating exchange between Dustin Pedroia and Manny Machado. pic.twitter.com/37thWTjziK
— Mike Cole (@MikeColeNESN) April 23, 2017
Afterward, Barnes denied intent, but even Pedroia wasn’t buying it, telling reporters, “That’s not how you do that. I’m sorry to him and his team. I love Manny Machado. That’s a mishandled situation.”
Regardless of timing, throwing at a guy’s head is a totally gutless thing to do. If Barnes was truly incensed, why not run in from the bullpen at the time of the original slide and start throwing haymakers? That would be a show of toughness, as opposed to throwing a leather-bound rock from 60 feet 6 inches away. But no, Barnes was too busy spitting sunflower seeds in the bullpen, and heaven forbid he endanger his own livelihood, by putting his right arm and hand in harm’s way.
Players can’t wait for the commissioner’s office to end this stuff, because at this rate it appears it’s going to take a second death before there are serious penalties put in place. The players have to police themselves from within. Pedroia took a step in that direction by publicly humiliating Barnes. Now, whether Barnes is smart enough to realize he’s been humiliated is another question entirely.
Chicago Cubs (Anderson 1-0, 4.40) vs Pittsburgh Pirates (Kuhl 1-1, 2.60)
7pm ET on ESPN
New York Yankees (Tanaka 2-1, 6.00) vs Boston Red Sox (Sale 1-1, 0.91)
7pm ET on ESPN
Chicago Cubs (Lackey 1-2, 4.00) vs Boston Red Sox (Rodriguez 0-1, 4.76)
4pm ET on FS1
Los Angeles Angels (Nolasco 1-2, 4.76) vs Texas Rangers (Darvish 1-2, 3.28)
7:15pm ET on FS1
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