LOS ANGELES – Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell made it clear Wednesday that his team didn’t need any motivation from Manny Machado’s antics the previous evening to get pumped up for Game 5 of the NLCS.
“We don’t need motivation for these games,” said Counsell, whose team lost a tough 2-1, 13-inning Game 4 at Dodger Stadium that evened the series.
“Both teams are two games away from the World Series. There’s no motivation needed. We’re highly motivated.”
Some folks wondered what mood the Brewers would be in after Machado angered them by clipping the back leg of first baseman Jesus Aguilar – by all appearances, intentionally – in the 10th inning while running out a ground ball. The benches emptied briefly but the altercation quickly died down.
Aguilar later said he made peace with Machado but other players were not as forgiving. Christian Yelich was particularly upset, calling it “a dirty play by a dirty player.” Machado basically said he didn’t care what the Brewers thought and Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said his player didn’t do anything wrong.
Major League Baseball apparently disagreed because it was reported that Machado was fined an undisclosed amount for what he did to Aguilar at first base, which could have injured him.
The Brewers already were irked at Machado for a couple of questionable slides into shortstop Orlando Arcia in Game 3. Upon video review, Machado was ruled to have interfered on the second slide and a double play was the result.
As for what Yelich and other Brewers players said about Machado being a dirty player, Counsell said, “Look, the game’s played on the field. And there’s the ‘after games,’ you know, talk, and stories and things like that. But then when the game starts you go out and you compete, and that’s what we’ll do.
“It’s Game 5 of the NLCS, man. You say to yourself, ‘Two games from the World Series.’ That’s all you’ve got to say. The other stuff just washes away, man. That’s meaningless to me.”
There was some speculation that the Brewers might retaliate against Machado by throwing at him, but after covering 13 innings the previous evening and already using the bullpen frequently, they could not afford an early ejection of their “initial out-getter.”
Counsell said he didn’t expect special instructions before the game from the umpires to behave themselves.
“I don’t expect anything from the umpires is what I’d say, yeah,” Counsell said.
“I’m not concerned about that. Umpires have, I think at least in our games, I think they’ve done a wonderful job of recognizing situations, that this is the playoffs and that emotions run a little higher in these games for players and managers and coaches. I think they’ve done a wonderful job.”
Of the rhetoric from the previous evening, Counsell said, “We all want something to talk about and you guys do, too. And that’s great. But, man, you know, there’s easy terms to put this day in, and these next four days in, that would center on accomplishing your dreams, that make that other stuff really pretty meaningless, and able to worry about it at a different time.”
A different time? Perhaps Machado, an upcoming free agent, should sign with a team that trains in the Grapefruit League and not the Cactus League, where the Brewers play. You know, just to be safe.