Nobody around here is going to throw Manny Machado under the team bus for letting his emotions get the best of him over the weekend against the Oakland Athletics. Before judging him too harshly for Sunday's bat-flinging fiasco, it's important to remember that he's just a kid and he has heretofore been a solid young citizen.
He's probably going to get a few unpaid vacation days for throwing his bat down the third-base line after a couple of inside pitches from Athletics reliever Fernando Abad. His golden boy image is also going to take a short-term hit after the incident was broadcast nationwide countless times Sunday night and today.
None of that matters very much in the greater scheme of things. What matters is what he takes away from this experience and what his older teammates do to make him understand all the implications of the incident.
This time, it ended with some angry Athletics and the two teams milling around on the field for a few minutes. The two inside pitches didn't hit Machado on his surgically repaired left knee. The Olympic-caliber bat throw didn't injure anybody. The game was out of reach, so his ejection didn't have a competitive impact, though a suspension certainly would.
What Machado needs to realize is what could have happened, which should make him much more likely to avoid letting something like it happen again. If he had flung that bat back toward the mound and injured the pitcher -- which some media types speculated was the actual intent -- he might be facing a lengthy suspension that would significantly damage the club's playoff chances, and his good-guy reputation might be permanently scarred.
It's also important to remember that the bad blood that springs from any benches-clearing incident can lead to retaliation at a later date that could injure either Machado or another key Orioles player.
He probably knows that now and he has likely heard it from manager Buck Showalter behind closed doors, though Buck likes his team leaders to take responsibility for that kind of thing.