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June 8, 2014 at 11:24 pm ET
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Machado Headed for Buck’s Woodshed

All right, all right, everybody spread out. Take a deep breath and tell me if you ever did anything stupid when you were 21.

Did Manny Machado throw his bat on purpose Sunday? Mm-hm, probably. And he got thrown out and he’ll probably get fined.

See for yourself, if you don’t mind sitting through a really stupid commercial.

But wait til Buck Showalter’s done with young Mr. Machado. He’ll hear words he’s never heard before in a tone he’s never heard Showalter take. Publicly, Buck protects his guys. Privately, he’ll leave no doubt in Manny’s head that this was the wrong way to handle business.

The Bay Area media is all breathless. “Kripes, he coulda kilt sumbuddy!” Yeah, OK. We can all agree that throwing baseball bats is a bad idea.

After Manny took offense to Josh Donaldson’s hard tag Friday evening, we all knew something extra would bubble up before the A’s left town. And in the eighth inning of Sunday’s monumental ass-kicking at the hands of a red-hot Oakland team, bubble it did.

A frustrated and ego-bruised Machado conked Oakland catcher Derek Norris on the head with his long, looping backswing a couple times Sunday. Norris left the game in the sixth inning after the second such conk. Happily, he passed his concussion tests and should be back soon. Then in the eighth inning, when the time came for Machado to take his medicine for behaving like a goof, Fernando Abad fired one at Machado’s knee. Manny swung – ridiculously late – and flung his bat in the direction of Oakland third baseman Eric Sogard.

Benches emptied, though no punches were thrown. Order was restored and the A’s won, 11.-1.

After the game, Baltimore manager Buck Showalter didn’t exactly defend Machado, but nor did he condemn his 21-year-old star.

When you were a kid and the cops dragged you home for that dumb thing you did, you were more worried about what your dad had in store for you than anything the police could dish out.

You can bet your Louisville Slugger that Buck will have a talk with Manny. Buck knows very well what a chickenshit thing Machado did and, if Manny doesn’t know it already, he will very soon. If you have some business to take care of with an opponent, there are ways to do it without helicoptering your bat or whacking the catcher on the head.

That’s weak. Buck won’t stand for it and, as much as Baltimore loves Machado, fans won’t either.

Machado has struggled at the plate this year. He had knee surgery over the winter. And he missed a big chunk of this season rehabbing the knee. He’s not 100 percent back yet and it’s frustrating him. Last year and the year before, the O’s and their fans thought everything Machado did was gravy on top of a hugely productive offense. But now, he’s feeling the pressure of an everyday major leaguer, expected to produce day after day. And he’s only 21.

It’s no excuse. He’s a grown up and we expect certain behaviors from grown ups. For now, let him serve whatever suspension the commissioner’s office hands down. And I’ll be mighty surprised if he ever does it again.

 

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