Major League Baseball is never shy about demonstrating that its players can be subject to arbitrary discipline. On Monday, as they announced that Manny Machado would be serving the full five game suspension he received for his actions back against the Oakland Athletics, they showed off that arbitrary discipline yet again.
It took over three weeks for the full process to play out. Machado's bat-throwing happened on June 8 and it's only now on June 30 that he'll begin the suspension, which was said to be four games for the bat throwing and one game for freaking out over a routine tag by Josh Donaldson on June 6 and then getting all up in his face. Man, it's been so long I've almost forgotten how ridiculous all of that was.
Machado was not ejected for the June 6 behavior.
The argument from the Orioles, as Dan Duquette told MASN during a rain delay last week, was that there was a "gross inequity" in the suspensions, given that Machado received five games, and Fernando Abad, the Oakland pitcher who blatantly threw at him, received only a fine. This was not, it seems, an argument that held much weight with MLB.
Despite things that the Orioles and Machado said to the press as the process went along, it seems likely that the most they could have hoped for was a one-game reduction, since it's likely that the June 6 incident would never have been the subject of any discipline if it wasn't for the later bat throwing.
Trot Nixon received a four game suspension for throwing a bat in 2002, so precedent is basically that you get suspended for four games for throwing a bat. That actually seems kind of light, so maybe the Orioles and Machado shouldn't complain too much about it. Now there is also precedent of a one game suspension for hurling a helmet in the vague general direction of another player and then yelling at them. Based on that standard, you could probably suspend a member of the Red Sox every other game or so, but I won't be holding my breath.
The timing of the suspension is unfortunate, with Machado in the midst of a hot streak over the last seven days, batting .318/.400/.727 with three home runs. At one point in the process, he told reporters that he didn't want to miss the games because he wanted to help the team make the playoffs, which may have indicated he had never watched his own at-bats. He's gotten hot since that quote. Now they really will be missing him for five games.
Don't throw your bat at people and you don't have to worry about all of that. This seems like a pretty simple concept, and yet, here we are.
The Orioles do not get to replace Machado on the roster during this suspension, so they'll be short an infielder. They have had Jemile Weeks hanging out in Aberdeen and will probably summon him while Machado is suspended, but that would leave them short a reliever. Then again, if the reliever they'd be short is Evan Meek, are they really missing out?
The five game suspension will run through the July 4 game against Boston, with Machado able to play again on July 5.