Maybe someday, we'll all look back on the unhappy events of the past several days and think of them as the not-so-funny, out-of-character things that happened to Manny Machado on his way to the Hall of Fame.
Maybe all the tough love will sink in, and he'll serve his suspension for conduct unbecoming of a major league ballplayer, and that will be the last time his name turns up in an unflattering headline.
The Orioles can only hope this all just goes away, but it's obvious that they're very concerned about Machado, and they have every right to be. He has a chance to be one of the greatest players in franchise history and, apparently, is at risk to undo all that wonderful potential if he doesn't get his head on straight.
- Bio | E-mail | Recent columns
- Manny Machado appeals his five-game suspension
- Dan Duquette on what Manny Machado needs to do
- Peter Schmuck: Machado must decide to sit now or later
- Orioles celebrate American League East title [Pictures]
- Orioles in September 2014 [Pictures]
- Top 10 teams in Orioles history [Pictures]
See more photos »
- VIDEO: Manny Machado apologizes for actions
- VIDEO: Buck Showalter on Manny Machado's suspension
It's hard not to remember that widely disseminated photo of Machado and Alex Rodriguez at a Jay Z concert in January and wonder if he took some kind of offseason detour that has left him looking like a different player and a different person than the fresh-faced kid that dazzled us all during his Platinum Glove season in 2013.
Manager Buck Showalter doesn't want to think so, but over two days of pregame news briefings in which Machado was the primary topic, his support for his youthful third baseman has been both unwavering and a bit revealing.
Showalter was asked Tuesday whether he had noticed any change in Machado since last season, and his answer was cryptic.
"When he's here with us from February until, we hope, to October, he's fine,'' Showalter said. "I can't tell you what happens when the season's over. I don't think anybody can. We all make decisions about who we surround ourselves with. We all go back to what our mom said: 'You are who you hang around with.' For seven or eight months, I know who he's hanging around with, for the most part. He's a good kid who means well. He just made a bad decision."
Read between the lines at your leisure. It shouldn't be very hard.
If this were just a case of Machado boiling over with frustration after struggling both at the plate and in the field since he returned from knee surgery, you'd have to believe the club would not have spent Monday afternoon in Manny lockdown — or carefully orchestrating a clubhouse intervention in which he got a major dose of positive peer pressure from his older teammates.
Showalter also called into question the popular notion that Machado was mature beyond his years when he arrived in the major leagues in 2012 and became Mr. Web Gems last season.
"So, what made everybody talk about him being that mature? His statistics?" Showalter asked. "That would be the question I would ask. I think he's shown maturity in the way he's handled this, but I tell you what — he had some really good advice from his teammates."
Those players apparently gave him a refresher course in what is expected of a good teammate and helped convince him to come clean and take responsibility for his unsportsmanlike behavior over the weekend against the Oakland Athletics.
"We really pride ourselves in playing the game the right way,'' first baseman Chris Davis said. "You don't see guys pimping home runs or yelling at guys after they strike them out. We pride ourselves in being professional here, whether we're in first place or last place, and I think there are a lot of times in this game that gets lost, and people want to shine the spotlight on themselves. They want to pump themselves up, and forget what it's like to be a professional.
"We're not going to let anybody push us around, but at the same time, we're going to play the game the right way. That's the biggest thing to remember here. Let's be professional on a daily basis."
Machado's re-education did not stop there. He also received a veiled ultimatum from the front office in the form of comments to multiple media outlets by executive vice president Dan Duquette that sending the third baseman back to the minor leagues is an option.
Machado isn't going anywhere. He may not be the player he was last year, but we are talking about a young star who has established himself at the major league level and has nothing to prove in the minors.
Duquette, Showalter and a lot of other people around the organization are trying to make sure that the message comes across loud and clear that Machado simply needs an attitude adjustment while he still is young and impressionable enough to accept it.
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog, and listen when he co-hosts "The Week in Review" on Friday mornings at 9 on WBAL (1090 AM) and at wbal.com.