Goodbye Manny Machado; A fan’s perspective. In all honesty, I could watch 10 more seasons of mediocre, sub .500 baseball, if that meant I could watch Machado play for my Baltimore Orioles. He is one of those special players, that make baseball fun to watch, no matter how bad your team is doing. Here we are at the All Star break, as I type the game is coming on. The Orioles are scraping along the bottom of the league; yet again, playing baseball that I have only seen played in Hollywood, there are often times I think of the “Major League” movie series, or even “Angels in the Outfield” while watching them struggle this year. Since I now live in North Carolina, I have only been able to make it to one game, but I have watched, I’d say, 98% of the games on MASN, hell we are only getting Direct TV for the option to pay extra for MASN. But after today, for at least a few years, that will no longer be a priority.
Today, I am sure, marks the last day I will get to watch Manny Machado in an Orioles uniform. And though I am a fan of baseball, I don’t watch it unless my guys are playing. I am one of those through and through, loyal to the bone fans, so much that no other team interest me. I’m not even a fan of listening to other team’s tv personalities! So not only does today mark the last day I’ll watch Machado wear the black and orange, but for the Orioles, it could possibly mark the opening of the trade flood gates. With names like Britton and Jones being floated around as possible trade targets for other teams hoping of a postseason birth. It marks the end of a team that showed so much promise just a couple of years ago. In the day and age of uncapped MLB, having a “smaller” market team means these winning seasons don’t come often and don’t last long… and its not just the Orioles; take a look at the Royals amongst others.
Sadly, it’s why I have shifted from a hardcore Major League Baseball fan, to one who can’t wait for the NFL season while watching the Mid-Summer Classic. At least in the NFL, while you do have the powerhouse teams that always seem to be in the mix, year in and year out, for the postseason, there is always a flux of teams that weren’t very good the year before knocking on the Super Bowl door the next year. In baseball, we have those here and there but not nearly as often. If you get a window as a small market team, you better take it and run, because as the luck (which is crucial in these “good” years) runs out, the fall back to the basement is much quicker than the rise out of it.
I grew up watching Cal Ripken Jr.; I was born in 1981. The Orioles last World Series visit was in 1983; I was 2. You know what kept me such a fan of the Orioles? It obviously wasn’t all the years of winning baseball; I was born right after that. Part of it was the home town team, but the other part was Cal Ripken Jr. Like Manny, Cal was drafted by the Orioles and played the left side of the infield. He was also a special player, an amazing shortstop, a great guy and an awesome idol. I am happy to say, I got to watch most of his career, and all of it in an Orioles uniform; from his first Gold Glove, countless All Star appearences, to the end of his Ironman Streak. He is the reason I sit here in a Orioles Shirt and hat… watching the current Orioles shortstop represent the black and orange for his last time. But with todays contract potentials, and wealthy large markets, the best players would be insane not to want to follow the money, making the Ripkens of today far and few in between.
Manny has been a pleasure to watch. Though I loved him at third base; which, I think, if he continued playing, could be one of the best ever; but I respect his heart being at shortstop. Watching him from his very first start at third, which is an amazing story in itself, on his way to a platium glove. Witnessing his fire, when baseball became a mans sport with brush ups between him and Donaldson, to the beef over Boston’s hurt feelings that came from a guy playing with heart. I will never fault him for leaving the Orioles, even though this isn’t his choice, at the end of this season, it probably would have been inevitable. I personally would play baseball as a career, for an hourly rate, as long as I could play for my Orioles, but that’s just not the reality of business, and that’s what baseball is, a business; the fans become an afterthought when money is involved!
I wrote this to just get it off my chest. When you are loyal, through losing, you put a lot of heart into it, and you have to or you could probably find better things to be doing with your time. This writing is a thank you to Manny Machado, though he will probably never even know. I also wrote this as a message to Major League Baseball, from the commissioner to the players; we all see that, nationally, interest and attendance is down and seem to fall each year. It once was America’s national past time but, as with everything that revolves around money, greed tarnishes its luster. I beg you all, please think about those of us that place our valueable time and money into watching a sport; “a childs game played by grown men”. Place a cap on spending, let us all get the chance to enjoy a winning team, and let our kids get to grow up following their favorite players play on their favorite team. That’s the sort of investment you should want. You may think you want baseball fans, fans that follow players no matter what team they are playing for, but that becomes nothing more than a trend. Trends die out but die hard, dedicated fans don’t and they come bleeding the colors of their teams. Trends aren’t loyal.