Manny Machado reached first base on a Nolan Arenado throwing error with no outs in the bottom of the fourth inning of Sunday’s Cardinals-Padres game. The next batter, Jake Cronenworth, reached out and doinked a weak grounder to the right side. Cardinals second baseman Tommy Edman charged the ball, probably envisioning a tag-out-throw-out 4-3 double play. He and the ball met up about two-thirds of the way along the basepath between first and second, just a few steps ahead of Machado, chugging along that path. Edman scooped the ball and moved to apply the tag, and Machado, well …
This—as well as the fact that the Cardinals, who went on to lose their third consecutive game, were awarded only the out for tagging Machado, and not the double play pretty clearly broken up by his Street Fighter leg sweep—has become something of a minor controversy, at least among Cardinals fans on Twitter. In the spirit of fairness, they are not wrong to feel that 30 feet shy of second base is at the very least a curiously unorthodox place for a baserunner to begin his slide into the bag. On the other hand the takeout slide is older than anyone who will ever read this blog, and it’s lauded as Good Hard-Nosed Baseball roughly as often as it’s decried as a dirty play, mostly depending on which team the speaker was rooting for.
There’s a minor YouTube genre of compilation videos of Machado blowing up middle infielders at second base. He has a reputation for aggressive takeout slides, including a somewhat notorious incident in 2017 during his time with the Baltimore Orioles, when he slid well past the bag at second and caused a minor leg injury to Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. He also has a broader history of reckless and/or bizarre behavior on the field. In 2014, Machado spiked his helmet near Oakland A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson after Donaldson tagged him out on a routine ground ball, and the dugouts emptied. The next day, the dugouts emptied again when Machado pretty obviously intentionally flung his bat in the direction of A’s pitcher Fernando Abad, who’d thrown in on his legs a couple of times, probably in retaliation for the helmet-spiking thing. In 2018 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, running to first on a grounder against the Milwaukee Brewers, Machado dragged his left foot weirdly and kicked first baseman Jesus Aguilar’s ankle as he passed the bag. Yes, both dugouts emptied. Yesterday’s move seems to chart a new frontier in not-even-pretending-to-be-sliding-into-second for Machado, unless you find yourself enchanted by the possibility that he was attempting to replicate Dick Van Dyke’s seduction move from Mary Poppins:
I consider this unlikely, but won’t rule it out. Edman and his legs were fine, and if the Sacred Unwritten Laws Of Baseball have their say, Machado might acquire a new ball-shaped bruise when the Padres and Cardinals meet again in September. So it goes.