Manny Machado was public enemy No. 1 in the National League Championship Series, and enemy territory won’t be any friendlier when the World Series starts Tuesday night.
The Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop was, as he sometimes is, at the center of controversy during the NLCS against the Milwaukee Brewers. A questionable slide and a dirty play at first base put him in the crosshairs for Brewers fans as the series progressed.
The Boston Red Sox are more than familiar with Machado who sparked at the center of a bench-clearing incident last season after the Sox retaliated for Machado taking out Dustin Pedroia with a slide at second base.
Machado, as you may recall, came away from that ordeal with nothing but unpleasant things to say about the Red Sox.
So, will any of that carry over and rear its head in the World Series?
Well, it depends who you ask.
Game 1 starter Chris Sale downplayed any lingering tension between the Red Sox and Machado, saying Boston had more important goals in mind starting Tuesday night.
“Not at all,” Sale flatly responded when asked how much the Machado drama lingered.
“We’ve got bigger things to worry about now. I think on both sides, on their side and ours, we’re dedicated to winning this World Series and to bring that championship to our city. We’re not really worried about any individual player. We’ve got one thing in mind and that’s winning.”
Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes, meanwhile, isn’t quite ready to forgive and forget.
“You’re talking about a play in which Pedey still hasn’t played since then, really,” Barnes told reporters, per The Eagle-Tribune. “When you take out a captain, a leader of a team, that’s not going to sit well with anybody. It kind of is what it is. You move on. I don’t see anything happening, I really don’t, but it doesn’t mean that we’ve forgotten about it.”
Barnes, who was suspended last season for throwing at Machado, also admitted he wasn’t surprised to see Machado making headlines for all the wrong reasons when the former Orioles shortstop stepped on the foot of Milwaukee first baseman Jesus Aguilar in the NLCS. But he also admits there’s more on the line for the Red Sox than settling a score with Machado.
“Our job is to go win a World Series. Everything aside, that’s it. I think the sweetest revenge would be to win a World Series and celebrate with them watching,” Barnes said.
Hopefully Machado keeps his nose clean in the World Series, but don’t be surprised if the Red Sox are a little on edge and ready to snap at the first sign of controversy if Machado’s involved.
Thumbnail photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images