If you thought about it for more than a second, you could see it coming. Still, I didn’t expect Yankee fans to roundly boo Manny Machado as he returns as a Padre.
It’s not like Machado slighted the Yankees. At 26 years old, with prime years presumably ahead of him, the former Orioles and Dodgers third baseman entered free agency as a hot ticket item. He demanded a record-setting deal — as anyone in his position would — and he was willing to wait for it.
The Yankees’ interest in Machado this offseason is unclear. They brought him to the Bronx and had dinner with him while bogus rumors floated that he was close to signing shortly after New Year’s Day. From all appearances, the Bombers didn’t actually come close to meeting Machado’s price tag, even if they had a genuine desire to bring him aboard. Machado, on the other hand, seemingly wanted to join the Yankees but was rebuffed.
So Machado signed with the Padres for $300 million. That should be celebrated! He got the bag, made bank, etc. He’s a very rich man and will be part of an up-and-coming team, one that will only play the Yankees on a triennial basis (provided the teams don’t meet in the Fall Classic). Phew! This is a guy who has 22 homers against the Bombers, more than he has against any other franchise. Getting him out of the division and league as a whole is a relief.
Let’s be clear: Yankee fans don’t need to cheer Machado. He’s never played for the Yankees and likely never will (though New York has precedent for absorbing record-setting deals). His bat did torment the Bronx faithful for years.
But booing him just doesn’t pass the test to me. Maybe if it’s a “We didn’t want you anyway” jeer or a set of boos for him destroying the Yankees for years, but it’s not like he earned a chorus of boos in previous trips to the Bronx.
These boos reeked of the kind Yankees fans pay to Robinson Cano or Orioles fans dealt to Mark Teixeira for years. The voiced displeasure of a superstar not taking a discount to join your team and city, unearned scorn that does a disservice to the fanbase and player. Perhaps, in Cano’s case, the star may regret not joining the team, but the booing is still unnecessary.
Machado, for what it’s worth, was unphased by the Bronx welcome he received. “I get booed everywhere I go,” Machado said. “Great players get booed.” He was rightfully more focused on the loss San Diego took on Monday.
Manny Machado on the Bronx boos: “I get booed everywhere I go. Great players get booed. It happens.”— AJ Cassavell (@AJCassavell) May 27, 2019
Asked where these boos ranked among the rest, he said: “A boo’s a boo. We took the L. That sucks.”
The Yankees have been fine thus far without Machado. D.J. LeMahieu has surpassed fans’ low expectations while Gio Urshela has caught fire. The franchise still has to settle third base in the long term unless the brass believes Urshela is a long-term fit at the hot corner.
Machado’s old teammate, Zack Britton, didn’t think the infielder would end up in the Bronx, but he would have enjoyed reuniting with the third baseman.
“I thought he was a perfect fit,’’ Britton told the New York Post. “He brings elite defense at third, his power in the Stadium would have played and he would have been good in the clubhouse where there are other big names, as well.”
Ultimately, the Bombers had an opportunity to lock up a star in Machado and passed. That’s their choice and, based on the early results, it’s been a perfectly OK one. The Yankees may regret it later on, but that’s no reason to boo Machado. He’s happy, the Yankees are happy; Why can’t we all get along?