While Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado didn’t make his fourth American League all-star team this season, he still got the opportunity to head down to his hometown of Miami to watch the festivities.
Donning a bright blue AL all-star jersey, Machado was able to visit on the field with his brother-in-law, Athletics’ Yonder Alonso, Orioles teammate Jonathan Schoop and Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano, Dominican Republic teammates of Machado’s from the World Baseball Classic.
“It was nice just to know I knew a lot of those players on the other side,” Machado said of the experience before the Orioles’ 9-8 loss to the Cubs on Friday. “I was rooting for my brother-in-law [Alonso], Jonathan [Schoop], Nelly [Nelson Cruz], Cano and all these guys that were close to me. It was fun to watch them all have fun and enjoy themselves in the All-Star Game, something that they deserved to be there. It was an exciting day, an exciting week for my family and everyone that was there.”
And while Machado had a good time visiting with his friends and playing with his 1-year-old nephew, Alonso’s son, Machado wasn’t a huge fan of being sidelined.
“It was a little boring to watch it,” Machado said. “I don’t know how people go out there and watch games. Now I know why sometimes people don’t come to games.”
Machado is hardly the first major league player to call out baseball’s lack of intrigue from a fan perspective. In an ESPN the Magazine article last March, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper called baseball a “tired sport” because players can’t express themselves.
“You can’t do what people in other sports do,” Harper said in the lengthy piece. “I’m not saying baseball is, you know, boring or anything like that, but it’s the excitement of the young guys who are coming into the game now who have flair.”
It was Harper’s comments that sparked his well-known “Make Baseball Fun Again” campaign. On April 4, 2016, after the Nationals’ season-opening win over the Atlanta Braves, Harper sported a hat with the phrase, “Make Baseball Fun Again.” The cap was both a play on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Harper’s scrutinized offseason comments.
The pair of baseball critics could end up playing together on, of all teams, the New York Yankees, a famously traditional franchise. Machado, Harper and Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw are all set to become free agents during the 2018-19 offseason. Of course, Harper commented on his potential future with the Yankees while in Miami, and the slugger didn’t seem too fond of New York.
“Going to New York City for a couple days … I want to get out of there in about three days,” Harper said during Monday’s media availability at the All-Star Game, via NJ.com’s Randy Miller. “You go there for three days, it’s pretty crazy and hectic and I want to go back home. I want to go back home to D.C. There’s nothing like it.”
Machado told the New York Post in April, he was would be keeping his options open “100 percent” and touched on the rumors swirling of himself, Harper and Gary Sanchez all ending up in the Big Apple in 2019.
“I know there is talk about the future and maybe me, Gary [Sanchez] and [Bryce] Harper being together,” Machado told the New York Post. “That’s New York. That’s what goes on. … You never know what to expect in this game.”
For what it’s worth, Major League Baseball knows it has a problem, particularly among younger audiences that tune out due to the slow pace of the game. In an effort to speed the game up, baseball instituted an automatic intentional walk for the 2017 seasons and there are rumors that a pitch clock could be added in 2018, although it’s unclear whether either has or will make the game more interesting to new fans.