In that piece, Kelly reported on a handful of quotes attributed to Machado in an interview conducted by Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic with the pending free agent shortstop.
One of those quotes stood out enough that Kelly highlighted it in his headline:
“…I’m not the type of player that’s going to be ‘Johnny Hustle,’…That’s just not my personality, that’s not my cup of tea, that’s not who I am.”
Well, let me tell you what else that is not. That is not an attitude that is going to sell in Philly.
Kelly compared Machado somewhat to former Phillies star shortstop Jimmy Rollins, a franchise icon, the all-time Phillies leader in career hits, and a future Wall of Famer.
Yes, there were times that Rollins did not hustle during his career. In fact, Kelly referenced in his piece the incident well-known to Phillies fans from 2012 in which then-manager Charlie Manuel benched ‘JRoll’ for failing to run out a fly ball.
However, whatever Rollins’ occasional lapses, Phillies fans knew him intimately. They had watched his entire career. They got to see him speed around the bases, sliding head-first into third base for a triple. They got to see him dive into the hole for balls and come up firing the runner out at first base.
Phillies fans watched Rollins proclaim theirs as “the team to beat“ in 2007, and then deliver an MVP season to back up it up as the club won the National League East Division crown for the first time in 15 years.
They saw him help lead the club to their first World Series championship in 28 years the following season. They roared as Rollins drilled a game-winning and possibly series-saving two-run double in Game Four of the 2009 NLCS against the Dodgers.
The point here is that Rollins was one of our own. We watched him grow from his mid-September debut at Veteran’s Stadium in 2000 through to his final appearance in red pinstripes at Citizens Bank Park in September of 2014.
We forgave him the occasional lapse in hustle or concentration because we saw first-hand the leadership, determination, and toughness over the long haul.
If the Phillies sign Machado this off-season as a free agent, something that up to this point nearly every Phillies fan has been hoping for months if not years, there could be a big problem.
Back in April, Dan Szymborski for ESPN estimated that it would take something along the lines of an eight-year, $300 million contract to land Machado as a shortstop, which is presumably where the Phillies would want him to play.
Now if you, like me, grew up in Philadelphia as a fan of this town’s sports teams, knowing the sports media in place and how involved those fans are with the teams and that media, what do you think? Do you think that a player who is being guaranteed $300 million and who is not hustling all the time is going to go over well here?
A cynic, and we have plenty of those, might say that if Machado is hitting .280-.290 with 40 bombs and 100+ RBI every year while fielding a decent shortstop, then the fans will forgive the occasional lack of hustle. I’m not so sure.
Machado is not home-grown. You pay him that much, you are going to expect that he will come in here and provide more than just his fantasy baseball numbers. Over the first 96 games of this past season, Machado was having a tremendous year. Meanwhile, his Orioles team was baseball’s worst.
Lack of hustle is not the only heavy baggage that Machado would carry with him off the plane at Philadelphia International Airport. There is also a very real “dirty player” label that the now 26-year-old carries along with him.
In last night’s Game Four of the National League Championship Series, that dirty play was on display in front of a national audience. While running through first base on a ground out in the 10th inning, Machado clearly kicked Brewers’ first baseman Jesus Aguilar.
“A dirty play by a dirty player” is how the incident was described by NL MVP favorite Christian Yelich of the Brewers per Gabe Lacques at USA Today. “It absolutely is. I have a lot of respect for him as a player, but you can’t respect someone who plays the game like that.”
In the immediate aftermath of the play, former MLB star and current analyst Eric Byrnes put out a tweet that has since been deleted. It was seen, however, by yours truly and reported on by Larry Brown at Yardbarker.
“This dude is the biggest piece of (bleep) I’ve ever seen play the game… He is an absolute embarrassment & represents everything that’s WRONG with baseball. Hopefully future generations can watch & learn how NOT to play the game.” ~ Eric Byrnes
That is exactly why people think what they do about Machado.
— Mark Mulder (@markmulder20) October 17, 2018
That was the message from Mark Mulder, who pitched for nine years in Major League Baseball and won 103 games in the 2000’s. Mulder is saying a whole lot in a few words with “people think what they do” regarding Machado.
During the NLCS Game Three on Monday, Machado had been involved in a pair of similarly controversial plays. During the postgame show on Fox Sports, former star player Alex Rodriguez, no stranger to controversy himself, was quoted on those incidents and their potential effect on Machado’s potential upcoming huge payday.
“You have 30 owners all want you right now. The whole world is watching baseball. You don’t want four, five owners to sit around and say, ‘Hey, did you see what Manny did? Did you see that? Oh, yeah, yeah, we’re out. We like him, but now we’re out.’ You’re losing tens of millions of dollars by the second if that becomes the narrative.”
I can guarantee you that has indeed now become the narrative. There are a large number of Phillies fans whose minds have changed on Machado, and who are hoping and praying that owner John Middleton is among the owners who are out. We may be seeing the Phillies offer to Bryce Harper rising by the day as the postseason moves along, and the Machado antics continue on full display.
As for myself, I don’t need to watch and listen to this kind of garbage for most of the next decade. Machado put up great numbers for the Orioles for most of seven seasons. They got one division title and three playoff appearances with those numbers, advancing past the LDS just one time.
A dirty player who admittedly doesn’t always hustle but may want $300 million? I’m out.
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- PN Roundtable: Would Harper or Machado be a better Phillies free agent signing?