A Villain comes forth
Every great baseball rivalry needs two things. A competitive team, and a villain who is good enough that he inspires some type of fear. For the past ten years the Dodger / Giant villain was Madison Bumgarner who played the role perfectly but his time as the Dodger villain are now in the rear-view mirror.
Last night, one time Dodger Manny Machado gave notice that he would like to be the new villain as the Dodger / Padres start a rivalry that should get intense over the next five years. He is in the same division, he plays for a team that is clearly on the upswing, he has superstar talent, and boy does he appear to hate the Dodgers.
Machado showed more emotion in game two of the NLDS last night then Dodger fans saw in his half season of work including all of the 2018 postseason while wearing Dodger blue. From the bat flip that put the first run on the board, to the swearing tirade at new Dodger hero Brusdar Graterol. I’m not sure if Machado was simply trying to rally his youngish overmatched team, or if he really hates the Dodgers but his buffoonish efforts last night, entrenched how Dodger fans feel about him.
Machado could have added a punctuation mark to the game last night coming up as the winning run in the 9th inning but instead of a game winning hit, he battled Joe Kelly for a walk. Manny ended the night with a draw, he didn’t fail in his big moment, but he also didn’t deliver on any of the five strikes he saw.
The Dodgers will clearly win this series, but the Padres have put the Dodgers on notice that they won’t be coasting to any more NL Western Divison titles over the next few years. This team is loaded with young controllable talent, and while the pitching was thin for this series, it shouldn’t be headed into 2021 as their young guns start showing up in more meaningful roles.
I’m looking forward to more games like last night, though I could really do without the profanity tirade by Machado. We have learned one thing during this pandemic, baseball players say fuck quite a bit.