Pedroia Machado

The Red Sox play the Orioles today, and I have to be honest: whenever the Sox play the Os, I don’t think of Jim Palmer or Old Bay seasoning or the fact that Dwight Evans should have never been an Oriole. It’s the crazy-ass sequence of events back in 2017 that started with Dustin Pedroia getting spiked by then-Oriole Manny Machado, continued with Matt Barnes unloading a 90 MPH fastball behind Machado’s head a couple nights later, and ended with Pedroia distancing himself from the headhunting.

It’s an episode that looms large in Red Sox lore, and cemented Machado’s title of persona non grata among Boston fans, as the injury Pedroia sustained essentially forced him into early retirement.

Equally infuriating was Pedroia’s reaction to the aforementioned Barnes pitch a few days later, which seemed standard Baseball Code of Ethics. Instead of jumping up and flipping the O’s dugout the double bird or dropping trou and giving all of Camden pressed hams, Pedey called out to Machado with something like, “that wasn’t me, it was him,” thus disowning the vengeance. And maybe, just maybe, revealing some cracks in the clubhouse veneer.

My reaction at the time was a calling for swift justice (and it’s interesting to point out, as I do in the linked blog, that even the usually-reserved Xander Bogaerts accused Machado of intentional wrongdoing). And that’s what Barnes delivered. Boston sports radio had a field day with what was deemed Pedroia’s “betrayal of his teammates” and it sparked a lot of debate. Did the move strip him of any earned reputation as a clubhouse leader? Or did it mark him as a man of honor–someone mature enough to realize that having two seriously injured players really doesn’t solve anything.

Today, in the wake of all this, we can only wonder what might have been if Pedroia logged a few more years. But the man himself forgave Machado. And if you needed any proof that karma exists, I would submit the image of Manny M being twisted into a knot by Chris Sale as the final strikeout of the 2018 World Series.

“That one’s for Dustin,” I screamed as I launched a can of Miller Lite into the stratosphere. And it felt good.