**I confess, I’m a Manny apologist.**
When Manny Machado made his return to Baltimore, pundits everywhere made their unsolicited opinions public. They talked about how he’d be booed, ridiculed, you name it. They’re desperate to make him the bad guy. Of course, that’s not the reaction fans gave the man who would have spent his entire career in Baltimore if they’d let him.
Jokers like @spotswcoleman (Basically should be renamed “not the real Jerry Coleman) booed Manny while the rest of the fan base gave him a standing ovation. One of the largest crowds of the year for the Orioles showed up to pay their respects.
So what gives?
His critics say he’s a “dirty player”. Here’s a few controversial plays that plague him to this day.
June 7th 2016: Royal brawl
Yordano Ventura threw multiple 100 MPH inside and drilled him. Manny charged the mound and started a brawl. Ventura claimed one got away, but everyone knows he threw at him. Media verdict? Manny is a dirty player with a temper.
2018 playoffs: Johnny hustle
Manny made headlines for the comments he made about not being Johnny hustle while playing for the hated Dodgers. “Obviously I’m not going to change. I’m not the type of player that’s going to be ‘Johnny Hustle’ and run down the line and slide to first base and ... you know, whatever can happen. That’s just not my personality, that’s not my cup of tea, that’s not who I am. …
What’s interesting about this? Well, Manny has literally been an iron man, playing game after game when most guys rest. Earlier this year, he beat out a dinky ground ball with the bases loaded. He’s actually more Johnny hustle than Johnny no effort. He didn’t do a great job articulating his thoughts. What he should have said was what the heck will please you?
April 2017: Alleged spiking
Manny slid into 2nd base in what seemed like a clean, hard play. In fact, immediately after sliding in he grabbed Pedroia in a clear act of sportsmanship. What happened next? The Red Sox repeatedly threw at him over a 2 game span. Suspensions were handed down to them, while he gave an honest assessment to the media calling it “bulls***”. The media decided it was Manny’s fault and he’s dirty.
Those are a few of the examples of overblown controversies that have plagued him over the years. The reality is, Manny just isn’t a media darling. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear, and he doesn’t mince words. He’s a no BS player that teammates love and respect. He doesn’t play games, he’s just real.
Now, every player that’s played with him over the years will tell you who he really is. They talk about his skill, attitude, leadership and personality. They love him. Coaching staff? They say he’s coachable, has a great heart and works hard.
So let’s summarize. Coaches love Manny. Teammates love Manny. The media hates Manny. Call it like it is. The MLB umpires association went berserk over him arguing balls and strikes. They wrote a statement, unprompted, that sounded like a teenage girl complaining about the drama at her high school. It was filled with ridiculous hashtags asking to make an example out of him for daring to challenge their authority. MLB response? It was “inappropriate”. Ya, no kidding. A (supposedly) unbiased 3rd party openly bashing a player. Prior to that, Nolan Arenado was throwing his bat, screaming and kicking dirt in anger. Not one mention. It doesn’t fit the narrative. They’ve already made their decision that Manny is the bad guy and that’s all there is to it.
Here’s the bottom line. I watch this guy every night. He’s a leader on this team. He plays every inning of every game, you can’t get him off the field. I’ve seen him run out ground balls, make high effort defensive plays that blow your mind. You name it, he does it. He’s one of the most passionate players in all of baseball. He’s exactly what San Diego (and the game of baseball for that matter) need right now.
It’s time to embrace him for the hero he is. It’s time for baseball to embrace him as a marketable superstar.