MIAMI, July 18 (UPI) -- Manny Machado has earned a reputation on the baseball diamond for his style of play.
His Major League Baseball brethren have voted him as the league's dirtiest player multiple times. Teammates "love" the four-time All-Star, who is just 93 games into his tenure with the San Diego Padres.
Machado wore his token gigantic grin before the Padres beat the Miami Marlins on Wednesday in Miami. His smile hid a fury that boiled inside him after Tuesday's series opener when he posted a rant on Instagram, insinuating that the league holds him to different standards than other players.
The Miami native would not address the rant after Wednesday's win, but his teammates and coaches have stood strong behind his actions on the field. Machado also is glued to the franchise after signing a 10-year, $300 million pact this off-season.
"He's a winner and that's what you want out of your best players," Padres manager Andy Green said. "You want that type of attitude and mentality. Coming up short isn't good enough. He's will to do anything it takes to win baseball games. He is obviously very passionate about that.
"That's what you want out of your best players. You want that type of attitude and mentality."
Machado has had a successful career, and the 27-year-old third baseman's star still is rising. He tied a career-high with 37 homers last season, helping the Los Angeles Dodgers reach the World Series. He is a cornerstone for an up-and-coming Padres team that includes phenom Fernando Tatis Jr. and slugger Eric Hosmer, among others.
But it seems that for every Machado-positive MLB pundit, there is another voice bringing up his past on-field antics, which violate the league's precious written and unwritten doctrines. Milwaukee Brewers players seethed when he kicked first baseman Jesus Aguilar while running out a ground ball in Game 4 of the 2018 NLCS. He was fined $10,000 for that dustup.
"[Machado] is a player who has a history of those type of incidents," Brewers star Christian Yelich told reporters after that game. "One time is an accident, but if you repeat it over and over again, you're just a dirty player. It's a dirty play by a dirty player. I have a lot of respect for him as a player, but you can't respect somebody who plays the game like that."
Machado chucked his batting helmet toward an opponent while running the bases during the 2014 season. He was ejected from another game days later after throwing his bat through the infield during an at-bat. He picked up a four-game suspension in 2016 after charging the mound and exchanging punches with an opposing pitcher. He told reporters in 2017 he could go after a pitcher with his bat if he was thrown at again.
He later apologized for the incidents.
Despite his past of transgressions, Machado said his punishment, had he been in a similar incident, would have been stiffer than Jake Marisnick's recent two-game ban.
Marisnick picked up the suspension for colliding with Los Angeles Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy at home plate. The Houston Astros outfielder veered away from the plate as he was running in to score. He collided with Lucroy, forcing him out of the game on a stretcher due to a concussion and a broken nose.
"If it was me? I probably would have got 20 games," Machado said on Instagram. "Twenty games 100 percent."
Machado also blasted MLB Network commentators Dan Plesac and Eric Byrnes for defending Marisnick, who apologized for hitting Lucroy. Marisnick was hit by a pitch the next time he faced the Angels. He walked to first base without taking issue with pitcher Noe Ramirez's inside fastball.
Byrnes -- an 11-year MLB veteran -- has a history of publicly criticizing Machado. He told the All-Star to "respect his peers" in a tweet following Machado's 2014 incidents. Byrnes also called for an extended ban from baseball. He returned to the Machado subject in 2018, calling the slugger an "embarrassment" and a "total disgrace to the game of baseball" in an email newsletter.
Machado said he didn't know if Marisnick's play was dirty, but he would have gotten "crushed" if he were in the same situation, with analysts saying he deserved to be hit by a pitch. He said Marisnick did a good job for taking the pitch to the back without argument.
"How about when I got thrown at my head? Nobody was backing me up," Machado said. "They were saying that I deserved it."
Meshing and mashing
Machado's nickname is "Mr. Miami," due to his south Florida roots. His teammates dressed up like him before this week's series against the Marlins, sporting vibrant colors, flashy jewelry and sunglasses as they walked through Marlins Park.
The gesture was more evidence proving Machado's teammates already have forged a bond with him, despite opposing players' stance backing the narrative of him as a dirty player.
"Manny is a laid-back guy," Hosmer said. "He gets along with everybody. It was an easy transition for him. A lot of guys lean on him for support in the hitters' meetings and just the day-to-day grind -- not only [for] the information he tells us, but just watching what he does makes guys better.
"People know who he is, people know the real person. Everyone has their opinions on everybody, but we know what kind of teammate he is. We know what kind of friend he is."
Machado said it was "awesome" to see his teammates dress like him. He also said he's trying to be himself and he isn't going to change anything.
"We are trying to keep loose as much as possible ... when you can do things like that to loosen up the ball club a lot of good things come from it," Machado said.
Green said Machado became part of the clubhouse very quickly. The Padres manager also called Machado one of the most "respected teammates" he has seen during his baseball career.
"We all get along great," Padres veteran Ian Kinsler said. "We are trying to create an environment here where everybody has each other's back regardless of what's going on or what happened.
"We are trying to have that family atmosphere. It seems to be working. It's a very good environment inside the clubhouse and he is a big part of that."
The Padres sit in fourth place in the National League West, a handful of games below .500. Kinsler, Hosmer and Machado have vast playoff experience. Hosmer won a World Series in 2015. Kinsler's Boston Red Sox beat Machado's Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2018 World Series. Kinsler also appeared in the World Series twice during his time with the Texas Rangers.
The veteran second baseman said the gap in talent level isn't that wide when it comes to those teams and teams currently leading divisions. Consistent postseason success comes down to the "little things."
"When you are trying to beat teams that are basically the same talent level as you, it comes down to the little things and staying on top of what is going to beat your opponent that day and making sure the whole team is focused on that, that's really how you get to the next level," Kinsler said. "Obviously talent wins but the little things will get you to the next level."
Padres players credit Machado with helping them improve the smaller aspects of their game. He considers it all part of "growing his legacy."
"We all love playing baseball and enjoying this game," Machado said. "Coming in here and playing the game i love and teaching them what I know has been awesome."
The Padres will have an uphill climb if they ever hope to unseat the Dodgers atop the NL West. Machado's former crew has baseball's best record (64-34). With Hosmer and Machado's deals totaling nearly $450 million, the addition of the experienced Kinsler and the promotion of the franchise's star prospect, expectations couldn't be higher in San Diego.
This is the crew tasked with bringing the city its first World Series title. San Diego hasn't had a winning baseball team since 2010 and hasn't reached the postseason since 2006.
"The expectations definitely change when you sign a guy like Manny," Hosmer said. "The sense of urgency to win is definitely raised. And Tatis coming in with what he does. It gives us a vision to see how this team is built and how strong this team can be in the future."