Thursday Thoughts: In Awe of Manny Machado

Manny Machado prepares to throw the runner out.
Craig Landefeld/GulfBird Photo

This is a weekly column that dives into some random thoughts about the Orioles/MLB. I used to do eight as a nod to Cal Ripken Jr. This year, I’ll be cutting it down to four or five, so consider it the Earl WeaverBrooks Robinson era of Thursday Thoughts. – A.S.

1. If you weren’t aware of the fact that Manny Machado is indeed a very good baseball player prior to the last four weeks or so, I hope you’ve caught on. Machado has three walk-off home runs in the last three weeks, the latest coming Tuesday evening against the Yankees.

It doesn’t need to be said that the Orioles should pay to keep Machado in Baltimore long-term. It shouldn’t need to be said that he’s the most important player the Orioles have had in a generation. Machado had a dismal first half of the season and is now being talked about in the MVP conversation. That’s how good he’s been lately.

It’s almost as if when everyone predicted he’d come along in the second half, they were right.

2. Like every Orioles fan, I want to see the team keep Machado around long-term. I’m not about to fork over any of my own money to help it happen, however. A blogger from Australia by the name of Dan Clark has decided to take matters into his own hands, starting a GoFundMe page to try and keep Machado in Orioles orange. He started things off with a goal of $400-million and donated $100 of his own money (presumably).

I don’t know Clark personally, but I’m sure he’s a wonderful person with good intentions. I only know Clark from his interactions on Twitter. Based on that alone I can say that this is a silly idea that will hopefully only turn out something good (such as a donation to hurricane relief). As of this writing, Clark’s page has garnered a whole $126 worth of donations (including the $100 he put in to start). I can only say that if you actually put some of your hard-earned money into this campaign thinking it will help contribute to Machado’s future, you are foolish (unless you know it’s just going to go to some charitable cause).

For the record, Clark does state on the page that if Machado signs with another team, the money will be donated to the Boys & Girls Club of Baltimore, so there’s that.

Peter Angelos will (or won’t) sign the check that pays Machado, and for that matter the rest of the baseball players for the Orioles. They receive money from fans by way of ticket sales, cable revenue and merchandising.

They don’t need it through a GoFundMe campaign.

3. I found it very interesting that the Orioles decided to call up Austin Hays this week. The 3rd-round pick in last year’s draft out of Jacksonville had an absolutely torrid first full minor league season between Frederick and Bowie, posting a .329/.365/.593 slash line along with 32 homers. He played just 38 games for Aberdeen last season before making the eventual jump this season to Double-A.

Hays has quickly skyrocketed up the franchise’s prospect list, landing at #2 according to MLB Pipeline right behind catcher Chance Sisco. Suddenly, there’s buzz that Hays could be in line to break camp with the Orioles next spring. At first, the move to call up Hays didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Bowie is in the Eastern League playoffs, and seeing Hays stay down and get a few more regular at-bats over the next week or so didn’t seem like an awful idea.

Then I realized that this is more about the current big-league club and a push toward the playoffs. It’s also quite the indictment of Joey Rickard, who has been fairly abysmal at the plate. Rickard still offers some value defensively and as a pinch-runner, but perhaps Hays can provide something more with the bat down the stretch.

I don’t see any issue with getting him some big league at-bats right away, especially if he’ll be relied on to replace Seth Smith next season.

Cal Ripken Jr. posing by dugout during his 2131st consecutive game.

4. Yesterday provided Orioles fans with perhaps the most significant date on the calendar in team history. September 6th is of course the date that Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s all-time mark for consecutive games played. A year later, Eddie Murray clubbed his 500th career home run at Camden Yards. As a child, I was lucky enough to attend both games, and can’t recall a more electric atmosphere for both milestones. It was especially the case 22 years ago, when Ripken took that memorable lap around the warning track. Memories of that game and night will always give me chills in the best way possible.

What Ripken was able to accomplish was one of the more incredible feats, not just in baseball, but in all of sports. In fact, it’s one of the very few individual sports milestones that you can comfortably say will never be matched. There could be another 100-point game in the NBA, and with the way passing is in the NFL these days, we may even see someone eclipse Jerry Rice’s all-time receiving yards record. It’s not even that far-fetched to think someone could get a base hit in 56 straight games to match Joe DiMaggio. Pete Rose came within 12 games back in 1978, and even Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Luis Castillo have had streaks of more than 30 games this century.

No one is touching Ripken’s streak. No one is even getting close. In fact, there’s only one active player who has played as many games total (not consecutively) as Ripken did in his streak. Adrian Beltre has played exactly 2,800 games, and is currently injured and on the disabled list. No one these days even plays a full 162-game schedule. Jonathan Schoop did it last year and Buck Showalter has made sure it wasn’t going to happen again this season.

Ripken’s streak will not only be untouched, it won’t be sniffed. Those days are long gone.

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