Reporting Scott Garceau
Never has a torn ligament been cheered like the one Manny Machado tore Monday against the Rays in Tampa Bay. There were no cheers when he collapsed after an awkward step near first base, only sickening silence with Machado grabbing his knee and screaming with intense pain. It looked like the kind of injury that could be career altering. And this wasn’t just any career.
Manny Machado is a 21-year old all-star with superstar potential. For 24-hours, Oriole fans waited for the diagnosis hoping for the best but fearing the worst. After X-rays and MRI’s the verdict was in. Machado has a torn medial patellofemoral ligament. He will rest the knee until the swelling subsides and then go through a light rehabilitative program.
Yes! Cheers in Birdland! The O’s main Manny has dodged a major bullet. Head Athletic Trainer Richie Bancells spelled it out. “The MCL is fine, the ACL is fine, all those major ligaments are fine. This is a smaller ligament.” The baseball God’s have smiled on Machado all indications are that he’ll be full go for the 2014 season.
I can’t think of a 21 year old Baltimore pro sports star that’s had more impact on his sport and Baltimore than Manny Machado. Cal Jr. was 22 when he was named Rookie of the Year in 1982, Ray Lewis was 21 his rookie year in ’96 but didn’t make the Pro Bowl on a 4-12 team. Machado was 20 years old on Opening Day and played in every game this season. He finished with a .283 batting average, 14 homers, 71 RBIs and a major league leading 51 doubles. As good as those numbers are he was even better with his glove and rifle arm at 3rd base.
Brooks Robinson is the greatest defensive 3rd baseman in the history of the game and won 16 straight Gold Gloves. Those from my generation like to say “there will never be another Brooks Robinson.” If he continues to do what he did this year the current generation might be saying “there will never be another Manny Machado. The kid is that good.
He made jaw dropping plays on a regular basis if you don’t believe your eyes trust the baseball Geeks and their Defensive Metrics. The Defensive Runs Saved statistic has Machado at +34 runs, the fourth-highest total overall and highest by a third baseman since Baseball Info Solutions began tracking DRS in 2003.
Like Brooks, Manny is getting high marks from those who are watching the person wearing the uniform. Buck Showalter talks about Manny’s character and way he carries himself. You don’t have to be in the Orioles dugout to notice. “A guy like him, everything he does is right,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “The approach to the game, the effort he gives. He’s in a different category.”
Monday the Orioles were all but eliminated from post-season play that was bad enough, worse was the sight of their future getting carted off the field. A day later the standings hadn’t improved but the future looks a whole lot brighter.