For all his on-field accomplishments—he finished third in National League MVP voting last year—polarizing Padres third baseman Manny Machado has gained a reputation throughout baseball as one of the sport’s dirtier players, repeatedly putting opponents in harm's way with his reckless slides. The 28-year-old did nothing to change that narrative Sunday night, initiating contact with Cardinals second baseman Tommy Edman in a way that seemed entirely unnecessary.
Though this practice has been discouraged in recent years, players who subscribe to the “old school” mentality would argue it’s acceptable to slide into whichever fielder is covering second base in an effort to break up a double play. But even the most devoted purists can’t defend this play by Machado, who was nowhere near the bag when he decided to take Edman’s legs out from under him. Machado was called out (despite Edman not actually tagging him), though the double-play attempt was indeed thwarted with Jake Cronenworth reaching on a “fielder’s choice.”
Edman didn’t seem too thrilled at being tripped up by Machado, barely acknowledging the 6’3” third baseman, who tried to smooth things over by patting him on the back. Obviously, this isn’t Machado’s first brush with controversy. While playing for the Dodgers in 2018, Machado clipped then-Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar while running out a ground ball, prompting MLB to fine him an undisclosed amount. A year earlier, Machado drew the ire of Red Sox nation by injuring Dustin Pedroia at second base. Pedroia would never fully recover, appearing in just nine games over his final three seasons. Though it’s probably a stretch, many feel Pedroia could have been a Hall-of-Famer if not for that play, which effectively ended his career.
Machado’s ruthless slide into Edman also drew comparisons to a similar play by Chase Utley, who became persona non grata in Queens for leveling Mets infielder Ruben Tejada at second base during the 2015 playoffs.
Rather remarkably, Edman came away from the collision unscathed. Still, Machado can probably expect an icy reception—and perhaps a fastball to the ribs—when he visits St. Louis in September.