Manny Machado just can’t seem to help himself.
Less than a week after wandering into the spotlight for a questionable slide, the Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop caught the ire of the Milwaukee Brewers for a dirty play at first base in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Tuesday night.
Machado, loafing on a 10th-inning groundout to shortstop, appeared to go out of his way to step on Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar on a routine play at the bag.
The two exchanged words, as it appeared Machado accused Aguilar of putting his foot in the middle of the base. As Machado and Aguilar yapped at each other, the benches cleared, although order was quickly restored.
Of course, replays showed Aguilar’s foot was on the edge of the bag (his heel was pointed in the air), but Machado easily could have avoided contact. Players are taught to contact the base in the front and run through the bag, while Machado stepped on top of the bag and then carried his left leg through to make contact with Aguilar.
So either Machado is an awful baserunner, or he was trying to kick Aguilar. Another replay even shows Machado dragging his left foot through the dirt instead of running through the bag.
While Aguilar let bygones be bygones when Machado reached on a hit in the 13th inning, his Brewers teammates weren’t so willing to do the same.
“It was a dirty play by a dirty player,” Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich told reporters, per the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
“He is a player that has a history with those types of incidents. One time is an accident. Repeated over and over again, it’s a dirty play. I have a lot of respect for him as a player but you can’t respect someone who plays the game like that. It has no place in our game. We’ve all grounded out. Run through the bag like you’ve done your whole life, like everybody else does.”
Machado came under some fire for a slide into second base during Game 3 when he put up his arm while sliding away from the bag, making contact with Brewers infielder Orlando Arcia. And who can forget Machado’s slide into second base last season that took out Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia? That incident set off a chain of events with simmering bad blood between the two clubs.
As Yelich said, you sometimes get the benefit of the doubt, but when you have the kind of history Machado does, it doesn’t take long for everyone to stop believing you when you say it’s an accident.
In the end, though, the baseball gods didn’t make Machado and the Dodgers pay. Los Angeles won the game in the 13th to tie the series 2-2 — with Machado scoring the winning run.