With the third pick in the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft, the Baltimore Orioles select Manny Machado, Shortstop, Brito Miami Private School, Miami Florida.

This should have been a franchise-altering moment. The Orioles had finally acquired their next franchise cornerstone; a box office attraction that teams dream of finding.

But after six and a half seasons it was all over when the then 25-year-old four time All Star was shipped to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Yusniel Diaz, Zach Pop, Dean Kremer, Rylan Bannon, and Breyvic Valera.

Time will tell if any of these players will turn into stars for the Orioles but this much is already known: Machado was a top 10 player in baseball about to enter the prime of his career and the Orioles allowed this to happen. They have no one to blame for the Machado debacle but themselves.

According to Machado, the Orioles never approached him or his representation in regards to a contract extension. Yes, the same guy who amassed 162 home runs, 471 RBI, hit .283, and played Gold Glove-caliber third base throughout his tenure in Baltimore was essentially given his walking papers by the former Orioles brass of Peter Angelos and Dan Duquette.

The handling of the Machado situation was laughable. He should still be here and he isn’t through ZERO fault of his own. The Orioles are now embarking on a rebuild with a new brass in place as John and Lou Angelos have stepped to the ownership forefront and Mike Elias has replaced Duquette. Maybe the rebuild works and in a few years the Orioles become the perennial contenders that Elias’ Astros have become over the years.

But Machado returns to Baltimore tonight trying to help the San Diego Padres return to the playoffs for the first time since the 2006 season. He is hitting .278 with 16 homers and 47 RBI and has the Padres three games out of the National League Wild Card race.

Tonight in front of a half empty (at best) stadium, public address announcer Ryan Wagner will announce the Padres lineup. He’s likely to announce “Batting third and playing third base, Manny Machado.” A chorus of cheers should reign down on Machado, fans saluting a great tenure in Baltimore highlighted by the franchise’s only three playoff seasons since 1997.

Camden Yards was packed during the playoff years with Machado. When will it be packed again? Image Credit: The Odyssey

But for some reason there’s likely to be some boo birds flying around Camden Yards tonight when Machado’s name is announced and I can’t figure out why. There was no controversial exit. There was no false hope given by Machado that he would stay long term only to turn his back on the franchise, the fanbase, and bolt in free agency.

Sure there was a passing comment from Machado that “the Orioles didnt show me a little bit of love.” The full comment is below:

“The Dodgers last year, they showed me some love,” Machado told SI. “The Orioles drafted me. I did a lot for that community, I did a lot for the state, and they didn’t show me a little bit of love. It is what it is. But going over to L.A., L.A. giving up a lot of prospects for me, that kind of shows you what I meant to them, which is amazing.”

Machado is right. You are wrong. There’s no ill will toward the fanbase in this comment no matter how bad you want there to be. This is a shot at the organization; the same organization we have all been taking shots at throughout most of our lives and deservedly so.

Remember when a story leaked about what other general managers were saying about the Orioles and their approach during their trade deadline discussions last year? It was something along the lines of “Wow they are actually taking this seriously now.” To say new leadership was needed may be the understatement of history.

Take a second and read the article in the Athletic about Machado’s return to Baltimore. Make a free trial account and check it out. If you don’t want to do that, here’s Machado on the controversial SI comment:

“It was more of ownership and the business side that could have handled things better,” Machado said. “I’m disappointed in how it happened. They could have let me know where I was going when they already knew. It’s little things like that, where you have to handle four days of not knowing and all these questions (at the All-Star Game) in your face.

He continued: “There was a lot of situations (in the past) where we reached out, and we wanted to stay there, and they kept saying, ‘Hey, yeah, we’re going to call you back. And we’re going to talk.’ And we’re still waiting for that call. That just sums up the whole summary of why I said that (to SI). It had nothing to do with the fans. I loved the fans. It was unbelievable playing in front of those guys every single night and day. They were always there cheering us on. Whether we were sucking or balling out, it didn’t matter; they supported us through everything.”

Still want to boo him?

Machado’s reputation as a dirty player is something worthy of the boo birds. Image Credit: Jeff Gross

I will say that if you intend to boo Manny because of his reputation as a dirty ballplayer then good on you. Playing the game the way he plays it at times is certainly controversial and if you think it is worthy of booing, I can at least respect that.

Maybe you’re going to boo him because he doesn’t run out every ground ball and you’re of the old guard that thinks players should always hustle out everything. I am sure you’ve never had a really lazy day at work when you’re not feeling it. I’m also sure your bosses would confirm that.

I will choose to cheer for Manny. To thank him for six and a half years of service to Baltimore. He was the best player the Orioles have had since Cal Ripken. And it honestly isn’t even very close. He should still be here and the Orioles robbed us of the opportunity to watch a Hall of Fame career blossom over the next 10 years.

Put a picture of Peter Angelos on the big screen tonight. That deserves the boos it would receive. But when Machado’s name is announced tonight, we know the boos will come. It will be disappointing and folks will take genuine pleasure from hearing Manny booed in each at-bat.

I hope he hits the first pitch 500 feet and moonwalks around the bases. I’ll cheer that too. Factoring in the juiced baseballs and how bad the Baltimore pitching staff is, the chances of that happening are very likely.

Image Credit: Baltimore Sun