It’s a well-known fact that there’s no love lost between the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles. Those tensions reached the boiling point during the weekend series between the two teams, when reliever Matt Barnes of the Red Sox threw a fastball behind the head of Orioles third baseman Manny Machado in the eighth inning of Sunday night’s game. Barnes was ejected and, on Monday, Major League Baseball suspended Barnes for four games and fined him an undisclosed amount for intentionally throwing at Machado’s head. Barnes will appeal the suspension.
MLB: Boston Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes has received a four-game suspension and a fine for throwing at the head of Manny Machado.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) April 24, 2017
Matt Barnes Suspended Four Games
Barnes has been effective in an eighth inning role for Boston this season, and will be missed by the team if his suspension is upheld. Barnes targeted Machado in retaliation for another incident, which occurred Friday night. While running to second base, Machado appeared to slide late in an attempt to break up a double play. Machado’s legs stayed high during the slide, and his spikes connected with the left knee of Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia was forced to leave the game, and has yet to return to action.
Pedroia stated after Friday’s game that he wasn’t upset about getting spiked. While it may have been intentional on Machado’s part, it did not appear so and it seems Pedroia doesn’t believe it was. Machado, who has a history of creating confrontation, was first to try to help Pedroia up, and seemed genuine in his contrition after the game.
Nevertheless, retaliation has always been a part of baseball, and the Red Sox weren’t going to let an injury to their leader slide. It seemed inevitable that Machado would eventually get plunked. However, throwing at a player’s head should neither be tolerated nor accepted. A four-game suspension for an act that could have seriously injured, or even killed, Machado seems far from sufficient. Yet, that is the usual punishment for throwing at a player’s head. While the game, overall, does a fairly good job of policing itself, the league would do well to eliminate this particular form of retaliation by punishing it more severely.