While fans wait to see what happens in the next chapter of the ongoing feud between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles, MLB officials are doing their best to make sure there is no next chapter.
Commissioner Rob Manfred summoned both team’s managers and general managers to a conference call on Wednesday that also included Joe Torre, MLB’s chief baseball officer. The message: MLB has had enough.
The back-and-forth has been going for nearly two weeks now, starting with Manny Machado’s rough slide into second base that injured Dustin Pedroia. The Red Sox then threw at Machado’s head two days later, leading to a suspension for reliever Matt Barnes. When the two teams met again this week, Orioles pitcher Dylan Bundy hit Red Sox star Mookie Betts. Then Chris Sale threw behind Manny Machado in Tuesday’s game, leading to a profanity-filled postgame rant by Machado in which he said he has lost all respect for the Red Sox.
Major League Baseball, on the other hand, has lost all patience for these two teams throwing at each other.
Red Sox manager John Farrell confirmed the conference call during an appearance on Wednesday on Boston radio station WEEI and said he’d never taken part in such a meeting before. He didn’t reveal the commissioner’s exact message but said both teams know “what is expected going forward.”
Here’s what Farrell said, via WEEI’s Rob Bradford:
“The only thing that I will say in regards to all the events that have been talked about, seen or otherwise, the commissioner has reached out to both teams and discussed, talked about where we are today and what is expected going forward,” Farrell said.
When asked to elaborate on what might have been said, the Red Sox manager only would add, “That’s where I’ll leave it. That those conversations have been had. … This is the first time I’ve ever had a conversation regarding a situation like this, and that’s probably where we’ll leave it.”
Meanwhile, Torre told Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal that “enough is enough” between these two teams.
“One issue is the fact they’ve played each other so often. Once something happens, then it just seems to grow and fester and all that. Basically, in trying to keep score on who owes who what, we figured there was enough going on with both sides that we basically just had a phone call today to let them know we want to play baseball. We don’t want to get anybody hurt.
“Players deserve to be on the field. We appreciate your passion but we certainly need to have the focus on playing games instead of trying to get even, if somebody thinks they need to get even.
“Sitting in an impartial seat, you look at it and realize enough is enough. I know if you wear a uniform, you’re always feeling that you’re on the short end of it. I understand that feeling. But the commissioner made his point, without going into specifics, just about getting down to baseball. If this stuff continues, there will be some discipline.”
The matter of discipline may also apply to Sale. Torre said it looked like Sale’s pitch behind Machado was intentional. There’s a belief that Sale will be punished, though Rosenthal says that may not necessarily be a suspension. It could be a fine.
Punishment for Sale would surely anger Red Sox fans, who have been griping that Bundy seems to have escaped scrutiny for hitting Betts. Torre, however, said he doesn’t think that plunking was on purpose. He said, “it makes no sense strategy-wise” because the Orioles were up 2-0 in the game and Hanley Ramirez was up next.
Ultimately, the Red Sox and Orioles need to decide whether they’ll stop keeping score of who owes who. If they don’t, the punishment from MLB could stack up quickly.
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