Over the past year, San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado has become one of the game’s most polarizing players for numerous reasons — some valid, others not. On Tuesday, Machado took to Instagram to express his frustration with the double standard at play in how the media and Major League Baseball cover him versus how those institutes cover others.
Machado was watching MLB Network when analysts Dan Plesac and Eric Byrnes raised his ire by defending Jake Marisnick — . Here’s part of what Machado said during his livestream, according to the New York Post:
“They’re protecting that guy,” Machado said. “Was it dirty or not? I don’t know. Did he have to make a decision real quick? Yeah, he did. But if it was me? I would’ve got probably 20 games. Twenty games, 100 percent.
“But you know Byrnes, he knows everything about the game … talking about they threw at his head. What about when I got thrown at my head? Nobody was backing me up. They were saying that I deserved it. I deserved to get thrown at my head. God forbid somebody else gets thrown [at]. They back it up. That’s what this game is coming to now, guys like that.”
To be clear: Machado used some, uh, colorful language earlier in the stream to define his feelings about Plesac and Byrnes. We don’t condone that. We do think he has a point — if it had been Machado and not Marisnick, the conversation around the collision would be different.
Now, that’s in part because Machado has a history of recklessness. He was once suspended for throwing his bat at someone, and last October he stepped on multiple first basemen. It’s fair to write that Machado is probably not the ideal messenger here. He is, however, the player who was at the receiving end of an unhinged Twitter rant by the Umpires Association earlier this year. He has reason to speak up in his own defense — in part because nobody else will.
Even conceding that Machado has brought some of this upon himself, it doesn’t erase that he’s the victim of prejudices. We know from studies that announcers do talk differently about nonwhite players; scouts evaluate nonwhite players differently; and umpires eject nonwhite ballplayers at higher rates, too. This is fact, not conjecture. It’s systematic, not individual.
But that conversation is unlikely to appear on Machado’s TV. Instead the focus will be on Machado tossing expletives at a couple analysts and ignore the actual issue at hand, thus, in a way, validating his point and continuing the cycle.