We all had a feeling last week that, when Manny Machado told reporters his knee wasn’t feeling better, that we might be in for some pretty bad news.Â Sure enough, that bad newsÂ dribbled out late Friday ahead of Dan Duquette’s announcement before Saturday’s game at Wrigley Field that Machado needs season-ending surgery.
The Orioles are a better team with Manny in the lineup and in the field. During this latest injury hiatus, O’s fans have seen Chris Davis fill in respectably at third. But more than once, as a ball bounced around in the left field corner and a baserunner pulled into second, O’s fans have whispered “Manny woulda had that.”
But the slightly less-badÂ news for O’s fans is that Baltimore has a winning record in games played without Manny Machado. The Manny-less O’s are 26 and 18 in 2014 and don’t look poised for a collapse without their regular third baseman.
One certainly feels bad for Manny. But, as The Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly points out, Machado’s 22. If there’s ever a time that you’ll recover fully from knee surgery, it’s when you’re 22. It’s a shame he’ll miss the postseason, but he plays for a good team that seems to be built for at least a few more years of contention.
This injury doesn’t make a lot of sense. He swung and missed a pitch and crumpled in a heap. It wasn’t even clear if he needed time on the disabled list.
Last year, of course, Machado’s other knee gave out as he ran through a ground ball and blew out his patellar tendon as he landed hard on first base. Reconstructive surgery, missed the beginning of 2014.
To me, the biggest bummer of waiting for Machado to heal was being deprived of his jug-eared smile and his dazzling third-base defense. The O’s are still fun to watch, but there’ll be fewer “wow” moments, for sure.
The postseason without Matt Wieters looked pretty scary. And without Machado, it looks even scarier. But since the all-star break, the starting pitchers have made it unnecessary to score eight runs a night.
Good pitching and a lot of home run power have carved a big lead in the American League East. The O’s can win without Manny Machado. But it’s a little tougher and a lot less fun.