The inevitable has finally happened. Manny Machado has been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers and is no longer a Baltimore Oriole.
How should we remember him in Baltimore? Machado is the best player the Orioles have had since Cal Ripken Jr., but he will not be remembered like that. Some will define him as a hothead because of the bat throw or charging the mound against Yordano Ventura. Others will remember him as a "punk" for his scuffle with the Red Sox. That's not how he should be remembered.
Manny Machado is a generational talent and a true superstar in baseball. He brought energy and life to Camden Yards that simply was not there before 2012. For the generation of Orioles fans who were too young to have watched Ripken, Brooks, and Frank play, Machado was THAT guy. Adam Jones was the face of the "Dark Age" Orioles teams, but Machado was face of the 2014 team that was four games away from the World Series and the team that made the postseason in 2016.
Machado grew up after the bat throw and the mound charge, and it showed. The way he handled himself on the field was more mature, and it showed when the Red Sox cam after his head, figuratively and literally. The way he handled the trade rumors and questions from reporters throughout the season was as mature and collected as you can get.
There is the obvious disappointment of losing a top five player in baseball, but all the "what if" questions that follow it are rubbing salt in the wound. What if Manny played his entire career in Baltimore? What if Manny did not get hurt in 2014 and played in the ALCS?
If Manny finishes his entire career in Baltimore, would there be a new statue in the outfield and 13 hanging up next to Ripken's no. 8? If Manny survives the 2014 season unscathed, who knows what that brings the Orioles that year? We will never know and we will never have the chance to know now.
Machado was drafted by the Orioles, rose through the minors with the Orioles, and was a star with the Orioles. Manny was Baltimore's own. Adam Jones came up with the Mariners. Chris Davis came up with the Rangers. Machado was ours. That's what hurts the most.
Every kid on the little league fields in Maryland tries to make plays like Manny. He revived a city and a team that desperately needed it and nothing but gratitude should be sent his way.
Birdland will always have the fake throw to first, the incredible play against the Yankees, the walk-off grand slam, and many, many more great plays and memories. That is how Manny Machado should be remembered.
Best of luck in LA, Manny.