Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodriguez called out Manny Machado.
Tempers boiled over during Game 2 of the series on Wednesday when Dodgers reliever Brusdar Graterol celebrated an outstanding defensive play by Cody Bellinger to rob Fernando Tatis Jr. of a potential go-ahead home run to end the top of the seventh inning. Graterol threw his glove in the air in an emotional reaction to seeing his teammate save him from blowing the lead.
Apparently, Manny Machado took exception to the pitcher’s overzealous reaction. Machado started jawing at Graterol, who responded by waving back and blowing a kiss in his direction before turning to head back to the dugout. The Padres third baseman continued his temper tantrum on the field, spewing a string of words we assume weren’t very nice, prompting some Dodgers players to shout back in defense of their pitcher.
Was Graterol wrong for the way he reacted to the inning-ending play? I don’t think so. It was an emotional reaction to a significant play in a high-stakes moment. Graterol’s celebration was about praising the defensive efforts of his teammate, not about showing up the hitter.
Some old school observers who are sticklers for the unwritten rules of on-field behavior might scold these actions but Machado is among the last players who should be calling anyone out for not “playing the game the right way.”
Case in point occurred in the sixth inning of this same game when Machado smashed a solo home run to bring the Padres to within two runs. Machado didn’t simply flip his bat before strolling around the bases. He chucked it emphatically and posed for a moment at home plate while shouting toward the dugout.
This guy has the nerve to call out another player for showing up an opponent? Really? Rodriguez posed the same question regarding Machado’s hypocrisy in a tweet directed at the Padres star.
The Red Sox ace was coming to the defense of a fellow pitcher but he raises a valid point. Why do hitters like Machado think they can get away with exaggerated bat flips after a home run but pitchers can’t show any emotion when they win the battle?
Machado has long been a villain in Boston dating back to his years with the Baltimore Orioles. Red Sox fans have seen his antics enough to be baffled by Machado’s meltdown over Graterol’s celebration. We still haven’t forgiven Machado for the dirty slide into second base that ruined the career of Dustin Pedroia.
The Red Sox were able to get their revenge when Chris Sale struck out Machado to end the decisive game of the 2018 World Series. I’m sure Manny wasn’t thrilled with the way Sale reacted to sending him to his knees chasing a filthy slider.
There’s a lot of history between Machado and the Red Sox so it’s no surprise that Rodriguez inserted himself into the controversy.
MLB has long struggled to market their players at the level that the NBA and NFL have succeeded with their biggest stars. They have started a push in recent years to encourage their players to show more personality. Obviously, there must be some limits to prohibit excessive taunting that could lead to bench-clearing brawls but it’s ok to show a little emotion. These are ball players, not robots. Let the kids play!
The point that E-Rod is trying to make is that it goes both ways. If hitters can flip their bat after a home run, pitchers should be able to pump their fist after a pivotal strikeout. “If you do it, I do it,” said Rodriguez.
The Dodgers blew out the Padres in Thursday’s Game 3 to cap a sweep in the NLDS. That puts former Red Sox players Mookie Betts and Joe Kelly one step away from competing for a World Series title. The current Red Sox are sitting at home during this postseason but they’re still paying attention and might have more to say about what happens this October.