The Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox are bitter AL East rivals, always have been. This year however, the heat seems to have been turned up on the rivalry in the beginning of the season. The two teams have gone back and forth throwing at or behind players over the past few weeks dating back to Orioles third baseman Manny Machado’s hard slide into Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
Machado had a ball thrown behind his head just a few days later by Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes. Then, in Monday night’s series opener, Orioles starter Dylan Bundy plunked Sox outfielder Mookie Betts. It’s debatable whether or not that plunking was intentional, but it appears Chris Sale believed that it was as Sale immediately threw behind Machado, the Orioles best player, in the first inning of Tuesday night’s game. Machado was not happy to say the least and he expressed his displeasure in a profanity laced rant after the game.
“It’s been a crazy 48 hours, it was an absolute tirade, one of the all-time epics,” said Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench show. “I’m not sure I’ve seen a tirade as good as the one Machado put on. There were about 18-19 expletives in there. He just was furious with Chris Sale throwing at him. But, you knew it was going to happen. Last night when they hit Mookie Betts, it was like okay, they’re going to come back and Chris Sale is one of the most fiery and competitive guys out there. I didn’t know he was going to do it in the first inning, but you knew he was going to do it. I’m sure now Baltimore feels it’s their turn, unless the umpires give out warnings before the game tomorrow night. You’re going to see a Baltimore guy throw at a Red Sox guy.”
Machado’s rant and the battle of the unwritten rules in baseball is far from the only thing that is generating conversation surrounding this series. Following Monday’s night’s game, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones told reporters that he had a bag of peanuts thrown at him and the n-word directed towards him multiple times. In the 24 hours since, the Red Sox organization, the commissioner, and others have apologized to Jones for said behavior and condemned the fans who acted in that manner, calling the behavior inexcusable.
The problem is that the events of Monday night are far from an isolated incident. As Nightengale explained, these types of incidents are littered throughout MLB history.
“Wherever you go, you hear things, you see things, it happens all the time,” said Nightengale. “Maybe they aren’t as blatant about it as they were 20-30 years ago, but it’s certainly there. That’s why I was surprised about the outrage and the shock with which the Boston people reacted. Maybe that was because it brought up old memories and skeletons that the Red Sox being the last team to integrate back in 1959. But, this stuff happens so often, that’s why I was surprised at the reaction it got. It’s just that guys don’t go around talking about it. They don’t want the exposure. It’s almost how now, the TV cameras don’t show guys running or streaking across the field. They say, okay, the less that’s shown, maybe there will be fewer guys that do that. That’s why I think a lot of times the players that are involved in the racial baiting and everything else, they don’t want to bring attention to it either so that other guys aren’t out there doing things to get attention.”