Red Sox losing public opinion battle with O’s

Bill Foley
Contributing Writer

As we eagerly anticipate the next Red Sox-Orioles game and wonder if Manny Machado will once again be thrown at, one thing is perfectly clear.

The Orioles are winning the war of public opinion in the feud that is getting uglier by the minute.
Baltimore has drilled Mookie Betts, thrown near the head of Andrew Benintendi and forced Dustin Pedroia to miss time with an “accidental” slide that would have made Ty Cobb proud.
(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Last year, the Orioles also threw over Mookie’s head because he hit a few home runs against them.

Yet the Red Sox are widely perceived as the bad guys in the fiasco because they failed in at least three attempts to drill Machado, who went on an epic tirade after Tuesday’s Boston win at Fenway.

How has that happened? Buck Showalter doesn’t even try to hide his the fact that he is a complete jerk every time he speaks in or about Boston. He is the guy who, after all, started the 2017 Red Sox-Orioles series by blasting the Red Sox for whining about being hit hard by the flu.

Machado has been praised for his “maturity,” even though he was mouth flapping after his slide that should be, at best, an embarrassment for any player above the Little League level. He also pimped a pair of home runs by taking about 10 minutes to round the bases in Fenway this week.

But guys like David Schoenfield of ESPN are laying all the blame on the Red Sox. Schoenfield wrote a piece posted early this morning saying the Red Sox crossed the line. In it, he wrote Machado “accidentally” spiked Pedroia.

Now, maybe Machado didn’t spike Pedroia intentionally. But for someone to say he saw that slide and he assumes it was a complete accident is not being honest. He also isn’t giving Machado’s baseball ability any credit. We all know he can slide better than that.

An honest observer will tell you the slide fell somewhere between malicious and accidental.

Schoenfield also downplayed Pedroia’s injury by claiming the second baseman had to miss “a couple of games,” and he wrote that Matt Barnes throw a “97 mph” fastball near Machado’s head.

Pedroia missed three games. It would have been four if it wasn’t for a rain out. Barnes’ “97 mph fastball” was actually 90 mph according to NESN. It was wrong for being by the head, but it was 7 mph less wrong that Schoenfiled wrote. That is substantial.

Some Schmuck in Baltimore took it a step further. In a column published today, Peter Schmuck (that really is his name) of The Baltimore Sun called on Commissioner Rob Mandred to end the nonsense. He called for Chris Sale to be suspended for five starts for throwing at Machado.

Schmuck, though, isn’t a homer writer for the O’s. He accidently omitted the throws at Betts and Benintendi just like Machado accidentally slid spikes up

Why do the Orioles have the upper hand in the media, and not just with the homers?

Well, you can point a finger right at Dustin Pedroia, the unofficial captain of the Red Sox.

Whether he meant to or not, Pedroia threw his teammates, coaches and manager under the bus when he told Machado, “It’s not me” after Barnes’ threw at the Oriole hothead.

Pedroia’s postgame comments further buried the Red Sox under the bus of public opinion, and they have yet to climb out.

It got to the point where we had to wonder which side Pedroia would be fighting for when the teams inevitably engage in a bench-clearing brawl.

Pedey has given everything he has for the Red Sox for a decade. He plays every pitch like his life depends on it, so his devotion should not be questioned. If you’re a Red Sox fan, Pedey should be your favorite player.

But, with David Ortiz enjoying his retirement, Pedroia’s leadership is clearly lacking, at least publically.
Not everybody is leader, and Pedroia certainly has led by example for his entire career. But right now, the 2017 Red Sox, who are becoming tougher and tougher to watch (when Sale isn’t pitching), clearly have a huge leadership void, and someone needs to step up.

Lou Merloni had a majestic rant on the subject on Tuesday. You have to listen to the whole tirade. It really is a thing of beauty.

Machado’s not-so-beautiful rant Tuesday night might end up being the best thing for the Red Sox. He said he lost all respect for everybody in the Red Sox organization. If we take Machado at his word, that would mean he has lost all respect for Pedroia, too, and hopefully, those feelings are mutual. They should be.

The next shoe to drop in this feud is going to be Pedey getting plunked. You know it is going to happen because Buck Showalter is just too much of a Buck Showalter for it not to. He doesn’t care that everybody loves Pedey. He’s Buck Showalter.

If and when Pedroia is drilled, it might be the best thing that could happen for the sputtering Red Sox. Nothing brings a team together like a brawl surrounding the “heart and soul” of that team.

Plus, it might sway public opinion back toward the Red Sox.

Follow Bill Foley on Twitter — @Foles74