Padres third baseman Manny Machado has attracted controversy throughout his career, sometimes without saying anything and sometimes while helping his team achieve its main objective. On Monday, a debate continued to rage on social media after Machado made what many people within baseball deemed a fundamental baserunning play.
“The first thing I did was I gave him a high-five,” said Padres manager Jayce Tingler. “I thought it was a play, honestly, that won the game.”
“Shouldn’t be a story at all,” said Padres associate manager Skip Schumaker.
“I’m still trying to figure out what the story is,” said Buck Showalter, Machado’s former manager in Baltimore.
The story, if it can be called that, did open a window into a technique that has long been used by teams at all levels. In Sunday’s 5-3 win against the Cardinals, Machado employed it in what became a four-run inning for the Padres; he first learned it years ago, as a young man in the Orioles organization. Showalter, who oversaw its application, has been teaching it since before Machado was born.
“It was pretty much a staple with the Yankees,” said Showalter, who began managing in New York’s system in the 1980s.
The practice, if properly executed, remains effective in 2021. In the fourth inning Sunday at Petco Park, Machado reached base on a rare throwing error by Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado. The next pitch resulted in a ground ball to second baseman Tommy Edman.
Edman fielded the ball, moved into Machado’s route toward second base and ostensibly tagged him for the force out. He was unable, however, to throw to first for a potential double play because Machado had suddenly dropped into a feet-first slide, upending Edman.
Instead of two outs, there was one and a runner, Jake Cronenworth, on first. The Padres went on to score twice, tying the game, before Cardinals pitcher Kwang Hyun Kim recorded another out. They scored twice more before the inning was over, taking the lead for good.
After the game, Kim said he thought Machado should have been charged with interference. He also had thought St. Louis manager Mike Shildt would argue the non-call. Neither occurred, likely because Machado had the right to the basepath and because he did not interfere with Edman’s right of way to field the batted ball.