Tag the runner gently and where he would like to be tagged.
Apparently that is an unwritten rule of baseball that Manny Machado just made up last night.
While running to third base in the Orioles’ extra-innings loss to the Oakland Athletics on Friday night, Machado sidestepped and swerved to avoid a tag from third baseman Josh Donaldson. His efforts threw him off balance, causing him to fall backwards after being tagged.
Taking exception to the fact that Donaldson stayed after him and applied the tag, you know, instead of conceding and letting him go by because he tried to avoid him, Machado got up in his fellow third baseman’s face. The benches then cleared.
Machado had a long road back to the big leagues this season after a torn ligament in his knee ended his 2013 campaign. He presumably was not happy about falling backwards because he is still aware of his knee more than other players might be. But to think that is just cause to go after Donaldson is a clown move.
Machado wasn’t done making a fool of himself after the game, offering the following non-explanation (courtesy of the Baltimore Sun):
“He made the right play, but [I] just didn’t agree on the tag that he made on me, and I just had to get up and confront him. 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.”
Right. You are going to just have to continue. Or at least that’s what Machado should have done. Here’s the problem: by reacting this way, Machado got Donaldson thrown at, in the head and neck area, twice in an at-bat later in the game. Apparently Machado’s pitchers will have his back, no matter how dumb his outburst is.
Donaldson was the level head in the entire affair. He did not charge the mound or escalate things further when he was thrown at (twice). After the game, he didn’t throw any gas on the fire either when asked about Machado (quotes from the San Francisco Chronicle):
“All I know is I just tried to tag the guy. I was actually walking over there to pick his helmet up for him, and then he jumps up and starts yelling at me. I have nothing against the kid. I don’t understand where it came from.”
Nobody does. Just this week Tim Kurkjian wrote up an extensive, and I do mean extensive, list of unwritten rules in baseball. These are the reasons that baseball players know and understand as cause to fight. You can find the list here. Go ahead and take your “Ctrl+F” skills for a spin on that page. Look for “tag.” Look for “runner.” There is nothing about trying to tag a guy, who was trying to avoid you first, and seeing him fall down as a reason for the benches to clear and for a guy to get thrown it.
Unless somebody can offer a better explanation, Machado was mad because he fell down. He was mad he fell down because he hurt his knee recently. That is a joke. Lucky for him and for everybody involved, the guy on the other end was Josh Donaldson and not somebody else with a quicker temper or inclination to punch somebody.