The Padres' win over the Cardinals on Sunday included a weird play. It wasn't a totally unusual play. But it was one you don't see every game.
Manny Machado was involved, and when Manny Machado is involved, it doesn't take long for something that may seem unorthodox to be construed as – here goes – "dirty."
The play that (for better or for worse) turned into a trending topic on Twitter occurred in the fourth inning. Jake Cronenworth hit a grounder to St. Louis second baseman and San Diego native Tommy Edman. Machado slid into Edman's legs, as is often seen when an infielder is attempting to turn a double play. In this case it happened in the middle of the base path.
Machado immediately called for time, and checked on Edman. Both were fine, and the sun rose again Monday morning (although it's kind of gloomy here in San Diego, which is a total drag).
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This whole thing could have ended right there. But, Twitter.
There were no doubt some fans and followers of the game that took exception to Machado's slide. That was enough for the very popular Jomboy Media account (among others) to pose the question of whether the slide was dirty.
That contributed to the amplification of the discussion. But as far as "controversies" go, this one lacks the polarizing, house-dividing qualities of such classics as, "What color is this dress?" and, "Which direction is the man on the swing facing?"
For the most part the reasonable corners of the discussion consist of some people asking if the slide was dirty, pro ballplayers saying "nah" and baseball experts adding "I can't believe people think it's dirty."
Take Baseball America National Writer and friend of the On Friar Podcast Kyle Glaser, for example:
Dennis Lin, who covers the Padres for The Athletic, provided some important context.
Morse High alum and Machado's former Orioles teammate Adam Jones weighed in, calling it a smart play and perfectly legal.
Former Padre and longtime pro baseball player Cody Decker agrees.
Decker's tweet gave way to maybe the best exchange of all on the topic, when a fan claimed that no coach would advise a player to slide at an opponent in the middle of the base path.
Fortunately for all of us, Padres Associate Manager Skip Schumaker discovered the tweet and responded in the best way possible.
Monday afternoon, prior to their series opener against the Rockies, Padres manager Jayce Tingler gave a passionate defense of the play and the player. The second year manager said he high-fived Machado for his effort in breaking up the double play. Machado's team ended up scoring four runs that frame in what ended up being a 5-3 win. Cronenwroth, who would have been thrown out by Edman if not for Machado's slide, was the first of the four Padres to touch home.
Tingler also touted Machado's hustle and leadership, saying Machado plays the game the right way and that the narrative around the Padres' star is 'tired'.
Machado had some dustups predating his time with the Padres that have followed him in the years since. As a result there is a segment of the baseball population that is ready to pounce whenever a play like Sunday's occurs.
In these instances it's best to take your cues from guys who played the game or devoted their adult lives to covering it. This time around the consensus is pretty clear: Machado made a baseball play.
As for any discussion beyond that, Decker said it best: This is a waste of time.
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