In the fourth-inning of game two of the NLCS, Manny Machado hit a ground ball to shortstop. The fielder came up with it cleanly, and then fired to first to retire a softly-trotting Machado.
Joe Buck quickly remarked “Machado’s not running… Machado didn’t hustle,” in an almost surprising tone. In a scoreless game – and in one of the biggest games of the Dodgers’ season – it seemed like such an attribute would be table stakes. In a sporting event, especially the game of baseball; there is much that cannot be controlled. However, effort and ‘hustle’ are always the thing that can be controlled by an individual.
For example, take a guy like Cody Bellinger. All season long in the same instance, Bellinger has ran hard on ground balls on the infield. In a dozen instances, he’s beaten the throw for an infield single. Another dozen times, he’s made it within a blink for a bang-bang play. Dodgers fans have taken notice of Bellinger’s hard-playing style.
Still, the lack of effort from Machado is something that made me curious. This is not a new issue – and despite the big swings he’s had – I wondered if other Dodgers fans cared like I do.
#Dodgers fans: are you okay with Manny Machado’s lack of hustle as long as he performs reasonably well and the team wins?
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) October 14, 2018
In general, fans are not okay with Machado’s lack of hustle. In a poll that garnered over 4,500 votes at the time of this post, 63 percent of those polled said they are not okay with Machado’s lackadaisical style.
Furthermore, let’s look at how the rest of the baseball world perceived this with the Dodgers on the national stage.
Manny Machado should really try sprinting when he hits the ball in the ss hole. teams are watching.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) October 13, 2018
— Jim Palmer (@Jim22Palmer) October 13, 2018
If Machado is not hurt, his lack of hustle on that groundout is inexplicable during the regular season and inexcusable during the ALCS.
— David P. Samson (@DavidPSamson) October 13, 2018
Don’t worry about hustling, Machado. It’s not like you’re playing for the NL pennant. #dodgers
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) October 13, 2018
Manny Machado hit the brakes harder than he hit the baseball.
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) October 13, 2018
Nothing irks me like a guy who can’t play hard
— Clint (@DiamondHoggers) October 13, 2018
Dodgers Nation Reacts
I love Manny Machado. I love his defense. I love his offense when he's hitting. But no one is above the rest of the team and the rest of the team wants everybody to hustle. So not hustling to first is not okay ever. Watch Cody Bellinger run out every single ball and beat em out
— ChrisDavisAZRealtor (@48thStateRE) October 14, 2018
He almost single handily beat the Brewers in game one. Give him a break. He’s going to be a big part in our World Series win!
— Jeremiah Bailey (@JBailey77) October 14, 2018
I think he is nursing a leg injury. I'd rather he save the hustle for around the bases than a sure out at 1st.
— Misael Herrera ???? (@cudaman11) October 14, 2018
Before his most recent knee surgery (due to a play at first) he used to always hustle at 110% down the line. So you have to understand that. And for all of you who say "injuries are apart of sports" shut your asses up because many of you probably never actually played the game
— Adrian Pizano (@adrian_pizano30) October 14, 2018
he has done his part and help get us get to be where we are at. if he is hurting and still making big plays! Dodgers still need Manny. hope he stay healthy enough for the World Series!
— Joey Naranjo (@chory229) October 14, 2018
If Roberts ignores Machado’s lack of hustle, he will have a problem in the club house. You can’t sit Bellinger for not hustling and then ignore Machado jogging down to first with ball hit in the hole.
— Christopher Cejnar (@chriscejnar) October 14, 2018
If you didn’t see the play live, you can see it here at the top of the story. Now, one must wonder if this will cost Machado in his off-season free agency. Speculation exists that other teams are taking notice, and they do care. As someone who attempts to look at this reasonably, I just don’t want the lack of hustle to cost the Dodgers in a big spot. On sacred ground like the NLCS, there is no important time to leave it all on the field. This is the time of year that defines legacies and careers. Moreover, if Machado runs out that ball at 100 percent, he probably beats the throw. At the same time – I don’t expect a guy to run his hardest on an infield pop-up. There is a careful line to be walked in terms of playing hard, and I feel most professionals in baseball know when to go hard and when to let off the gas. As I have noted, I think more can be asked of Machado; especially for the last ten or so games. Still, he may never play for a ring again in his career as he learned during his time in Baltimore. It’s time to dial it up. What do you think?
[button color=”brown” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”samewindow” url=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/comparing-the-dodgers-and-brewers-pitching-staffs-ag1214/2018/10/13/”]Comparing The Dodgers & Brewers’ Pitching Staffs[/button]