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A Birdland Salute to Manny Machado

Manny Machado is the best player to play for the Orioles in the 21st century. We’ll never see anyone like him again. As his career goes elsewhere, we salute him and remember the good times.

89th MLB All-Star Game, presented by MasterCard - Red Carpet
Let us remember Manny how he chose to look, no matter how ridiculous we find it.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

All good things must come to an end. The truth of this is never more clear on a day where we must bid farewell to Manny Machado, Oriole. When he arrived in 2012 on Wei-Yin Chen t-shirt night, his time with the O’s seemed as limitless as his talent. Day by day the time grew shorter, until finally after one last All-Star appearance, the O’s place in the cellar meant there was no choice but to trade him.

Machado came to us from Miami, the third overall pick in the draft, a stroke of luck for the Orioles from the very beginning thanks to the Pirates drafting pitcher Jameson Taillon, who has never been as good, at #2. He was the fourth straight Orioles pick in the top five of the draft. Others were never quite as good as they were said to be. Machado, on the other hand, was even better.

The truth is that we may never see a baseball player as good as Machado in these parts again. We will probably never see one better. They do not come along every day. Even when you draft high, as the Orioles will next year, you are not guaranteed to find such players. Machado could hit, he could field, and when paired with his good buddy Jonathan Schoop, could make you happy just from his mere existence.

Breaking him down to the numbers he accumulated while he was here is almost unfair. He was so much more than just the numbers. They’re great, though. His Orioles tenure closes - barring a surprise signing this offseason or unexpected late career return - with a .283/.335/.487 batting line, almost a thousand hits, 162 home runs, four All-Star appearances, two top-5 MVP finishes, and two Gold Gloves.

Machado might have had more of everything if not for the two knee surgeries. As it is, he accumulated 30.9 bWAR over the seven years of his O’s career. That’s good for 11th most in the history of the Orioles franchise, ahead of some great Orioles like Ken Singleton, Brian Roberts, Al Bumbry, and Rick Dempsey.

Simply put, Machado is one of the best to ever put on this uniform and if his career stays on this track he could one day find himself in Cooperstown. He is that good. He was ours to follow and cheer for but now he will be heading elsewhere. That is the way it goes.

A wealth of choices are available for the best Machado moment as an Oriole. If you like clutch hitting, he had you covered because he was so good at hitting. If it’s defense that gives you the vapors, I don’t think you need me to give you the highlight reel to remember it all.

For my money, it’s tough to beat “Don’t throw it away! DON’T THROW IT AT ALL!”

Although at the same time, it’s also tough to beat that time he made like Brooks Robinson and threw out some poor Yankee from foul territory, with the guy only being able to stare on in bewilderment:

That is from 2013, where Machado’s defense at third base was so good that they had to make a brand new award, the Platinum Glove, just to give to him to denote that he was even better than every other Gold Glove winner. That’s not true, of course - they didn’t make it up just for Machado. But that’s what I believe anyway and you’ll never convince me otherwise.

Do you have a different favorite Machado moment? Please share it with us in the comments below so we can all relive the best of Machado.

I canceled plans to go see Machado’s debut. It just felt like the beginning of something special. He hit a triple and the Orioles lost, but the rest of that 2012 season went pretty well.

It’s hard to remember now, but there were loud voices in the baseball chattering class who advocated for the Orioles to trade for Chase Headley to solve their third base problem. They made the aggressive choice, instead, to promote their top shortstop prospect and make him a third baseman. From the day the O’s called him up at age 20, they finished the season 33-18, nearly winning the division and qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in 14 years.

Machado was the difference-maker. Without him, perhaps the O’s would have still been good for a while, but they never could have been as good. Now, they have to hope that the return they got in trade for Machado can be the difference-maker for the future.

Manny was drafted. He played. He will always be Birdland.

With the trade of Machado, the Orioles are down to just nine remaining players from the 2014 division-winning O’s team. Of the 2012 wild card winners, a mere six remain. The day draws closer where there will be no current connection to those great O’s teams.