The Baltimore Orioles have signed their top pick, catcher Andy Rutschman. Rutschman signed yesterday afternoon for a record signing bonus of $8.1 million. The Orioles have scheduled an introductory press conference this afternoon at Camden Yards, and Rutschman will be introduced to the crowd at tonight’s game against San Diego.
The Orioles have reportedly also come to an agreement in principle with their second round pick, shortstop Gunnar Henderson from Alabama prep. There was never any question that Henderson or Rutschman would sign, however it’s noteworthy. A rebuilding team such as the Orioles needs that type of reassurance for it’s fanbase to the effect that they’re going to have their best new players in the pipeline.
It’s funny how things work out sometimes. While the Orioles are introducing Rutschman, the future of the club, in their clubhouse, a major piece of the past will be sitting in the visitors’ clubhouse at Camden Yards. That of course being San Diego third baseman Manny Machado. This is certainly a series that Machado circled on his calendar, as I’m sure did Orioles fans. While much of the personnel from the front office on down has no affiliation with Manny, this is still the organization that drafted him. It’s the fans in front of whom he played for so long.
Again, there’s certainly some irony in the fact that the introduction of Andy Rutschman is juxtaposed with the return of Manny Machado. However once the game states it’s just baseball. But I will say this to anyone going to tonight or tomorrow afternoon’s game: don’t boo Manny.
There are fair criticisms of Manny Machado in terms of how he handled his departure from the Orioles, and even some of the comments he’s made towards the organization since leaving. In no way am I defending that. However I also suspect that the national media is waiting to pounce on Orioles fans and the city of Baltimore for any reason they can find. Serenading Manny Machado with boo’s will bring charges of sour grapes. It’ll spin Machado as a sympathetic character; and heaven forbid he homers or makes a gold glove-caliber play on the field. Do you really want the national media spinning that?
Instead, politely applaud when he comes up to bat. That reflects well on the city and the fan base. Sure there were some moments he could have behaved differently while he was here and afterwards. But that’s life. A positive response to Manny’s return would say something about Baltimore and Baltimore Orioles’ fans. Again, do you really want Manny hearing a chorus of boo’s, only to smack a homer, pose at home plate, and have the national media defend and praise him for doing so? Because that’s exactly what would happen.