That is a headline you just read. Sometimes baseball is just the worst.
In the third inning Friday night at Camden Yards, with Manny Machado on second base, Adam Jones grounded to A's third baseman Josh Donaldson. Machado and Donaldson met in the base path and Donaldson tagged Machado out as he was backpedalling to avoid the tag. He then fell, threw his helmet, and the two started jawing. The benches cleared and the bullpens emptied because sometimes baseball is just the worst.
I guess it's possible that Donaldson's tag was harder than it needed to be. Let's just assume for the sake of argument that there's a jab-like quality to it and we'll agree that Donaldson was extra emphatic on the play. I still can't say that I remember ever seeing the goddamned benches clear because a guy tagged another guy too hard. But according to Machado, that's exactly what it was.
"Didn't agree on the tag. Right play, he made the right play, but just didn't agree on the tag that he made on me, and I just had to get up and confront him," Machado said. "You get in the heat of the moment and things start flying. It's part of the game, and you're going to have to continue."
The correct play, but the incorrect tag. Manny Machado is 21 years old. This is exactly the kind of shit Dirk Hayhurst was talking about. Maybe there's some unknown animosity between the two coloring this incident but, on its face, we have a case of Machado somehow believing that Donaldson's tag was out of line with accepted baseball decorum. Look at Donaldson in that GIF. Then look at the umpire.
But nothing happened. Machado and Donaldson were separated and everyone else got back to their seats and the game continued. Then, in his next at-bat following the little scuffle, Donaldson was plunked by Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen. Chen threw two pitches high and tight on Donaldson—who homered in the first inning and flied out to center the inning before his run-in with Machado—and the second one caught his elbow. Prior to Friday in the sixth inning, Chen had not hit a batter all season, so let's call it...curious, given the context.
After the game Buck Showalter maybe shed some light into why Machado was so upset. It was equal parts injury concern—he is coming back from knee surgery—and some gibberish from his manager that he probably picked up on.
"I think sometimes you're off balance and you've been through some of the things he's been through with his knee, I can see how you might be sensitive to that," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "And I also see how their guy's trying to make sure he applies the tag, so got two passionate people. … Manny cares. And until you've walked a mile in a man's shoes, you really don't know what goes on, but it's pretty easy call for me what side of the fence I'm going to sit on."
It sounds like Buck is saying Donaldson should have applied an easier tag because Machado is returning from an injured knee. At the very least, he's saying that's why Machado was upset. Which is certainly understandable, but he was already out of control and jumping back when the tag was applied, Donaldson could have lovingly caressed him with the tag and he was still going down.
Aside from this nonsense, the game was actually pretty exciting. Home runs, plays at the plate, replay reviews in extra innings, there was a lot going on. The A's won in the 11th, but the Orioles had two chances to win it in the 10th and failed both times. First, Nick Markakis was thrown out on a bang-bang play that was reviewed and upheld and then later in the inning Nelson Cruz was caught trying to steal home with Chris Davis at the plate. He was thrown out to end the inning.
It was all very exciting. It was the kind of game that reminds you that it's only sometimes that baseball is the worst.