18 July 2018

A Farewell to Machado

There was a time, last December, when it felt as if the time was near for Manny Machado's departure.  Matt Kremnitzer at the time compiled some amazing defensive highlights over Machado's career.  Given how his time at shortstop has gone this year, we do not need to update that.  You should give it a view. Maybe play Sarah McLaughlin's I Will Remember You in the background.

What I want to discuss here is not the best of Machado or the end of Machado.  Not yet, do I wish to talk about the prospects the Orioles are seeing coming back to the team.  What I wish to ponder on for a moment was about the excitement we felt when Machado came up to the majors and was shifted to third base in the wake of Wilson Betemit.

A concern at the time was that not only was Machado being rushed from Bowie, but that he was also being pushed into a new position.  The shift from shortstop to third base was not to be taken likely as Cal Ripken Jr. famously said that it took him a year to re-learn third base after spending him MLB career almost entirely at shortstop.

Manny's first game on August 9, 2012 was decent, but uneventful.  He managed to sneak in a couple singles.  He seemed to have some trouble at third base, but did manage to make two assists and a putout.  In all honesty, it was not all that great.  He looked a little overmatched, but it was better than what Betemit or Mark Reynolds had showed.  The bat looked far more promising than what Robert Andino had become.

August 10, 2012 was otherworldly.  Machado looked like he belonged.  He had four putouts and three assists.  He made several difficult plays.  And the bat?  The bat.  Below is the box score from that night.

Baltimore Orioles Table
Batting AB R H RBI BB SO A Details
Nick Markakis RF4000100
J.J. Hardy SS4010002
Chris Davis DH400003
Adam Jones CF3010011CS,HBP
Matt Wieters C3100101
Wilson Betemit 1B32100002B,HBP
Nate McLouth LF41210002B
Manny Machado 3B42240042·HR
Omar Quintanilla 2B4132012HR
Team Totals3371072511
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/17/2018.

I can still remember his first home run in an Orioles uniform.  It happened in the bottom of the fifth on a 3-2, 83 mph slider from Luke Hochevar.  That is old school baseball.  In the minors, an offspeed 3-2 pitch is a rarity, so the Royals probably thought that Machado would be aggressive on an expected fastball.  He was not.  The ball hung inside at belt level and Machado lifted the solo shot out over the left field fence about six rows deep.

The next inning, Hochevar was in a bit of trouble.  The score was now 4-1 after Nate McLouth doubled, leaving him at second and Betemit at third base.  Hochevar came at Machado with three 94 mph fastballs to earn himself a 1-2 count.  He then mixed it up with a 78 mph curveball right over the plate.

The game was 7-1. Joy spread over the stadium and the Orioles had their second coming.  It was a remarkable time and there was so much hope.

That September, I lucked into a couple of tickets for Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Yankees.  Machado struggled against much better pitching that the Yankees offered.  A couple days later, the Orioles 2012 would end.  Yet, it felt like it was the beginning of so much more.  It felt as if Machado would be seeing a few more post-seasons in an Orioles uniform and provide the fan base with such joy as he developed into one of the best baseball players of our generation.

One of those happened. Machado displayed amazing defense at third base.  His performance there was truly the most impressive play I have ever seen.  His bat required more seasoning, but has become one of the top twenty bats in the game and he probably still has another gear or two left.  With respect to the playoffs, a knee injury ended the dream 2014 season and severely hurt the Orioles chances of making the World Series that year.  His only other taste of the playoffs was a poorly managed play in game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

He will be missed and, hopefully, it will not hurt too much seeing him in another uniform.


Pip said...

For me it will always be the fake at third base, and Gary Thorne screaming,”he’s not gonna throw it at all!!!”
And TJ Macfarland looking dazed and clenching his fist.
That play, and the first-of very many- throws from foul territory, body going backwards, spinning and throwing from mid-air, a strike to first base.
Why would he want to play shortstop when he can continue to be magical at third?

Bill K said...

Manny is a once in a generation prodigy. I don't see Os scouts ever getting that lucky again.in eptness of this org will be its demise. Thanks for the memorys Manny

Unknown said...

Remember all the times he walked out his ground balls? Or the time he demanded that he played SS instead of 3B? Bye Felicia!

Unknown said...

It's a shame they wasted all that money on Davis.. I knew we'd never re-sign him as soon that went through.

Unknown said...

Best guy on our team, always a treat to watch. He,ll make a great Dodger.

Rick Hess said...

I was at the game.... will miss him for a long time coming..

Unknown said...

I liked when Manny Man took Betances deep in the ninth for an unlikely Orioles comeback win against the Yankees. Nobody does that to Betances.

robotworks said...

Today I wear my #13 Jersey, my mourning jersey. It will be weird seeing Machado in Dodger Blue. Kind of like the first time I saw Eddie Murray in Dodger Blue. It just wasn't right.
On the positive side, I will be able to go to PacBell park in my Orioles #13 and root for Manny without worrying about physical harm on my way out of the ballpark.
Close one door, hopefully another one opens.
Thanks, Manny for the memories. And yes, you should play 3rd base.