In Milwaukee, Manny Machado is Public Enemy No. 1

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As they chewed on their free hamburgers at one of the George Webb restaurants in the Milwaukee area on Thursday afternoon, Brewers fans had two things on their mind: extending the National League Championship Series to a decisive Game 7 and making sure Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado gets the reception deserving of, as Brewers MVP candidate Christian Yelich called him, a “dirty player.”

“His antics in Los Angeles are going to lead to a lot of booing,” said Brewers fan Gerald Mortensen, from Wausau, Wisconsin. “A lot of booing. He basically tried to injure one of our players.”

George Webb restaurants were a hub of activity on Thursday afternoon, as this was the day the chain promised to serve free hamburgers as a result of the Brewers’ winning at least 12 games in a row. That streak ended last week, and now Milwaukee faces a do-or-die situation heading into Friday’s Game 6 of the NLCS, down three games to two. And in addition to pulling for the Brewers, fans can rally around a common enemy.

Machado will take the field at Miller Park for the first time since his controversial slides at second base and his near takeout of Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar as he ran past the bag during the three games played in Los Angeles. Brewers fans say they will be ready for him.

“Of course they are going to boo him,” Francisco Hernandez of Milwaukee said. “The slide was uncalled for, and he did it twice. Not once, but twice. No doubt he did that on purpose to Aguilar, too. No doubt about it.”

You could feel the anger, which was only partially muted as fans enjoyed their hamburgers. Their hunger was being satisfied, but their distaste for the new villain of the postseason was just as strong.

Even to those who know him best, Machado is an enigma, a good kid who just can’t help himself.

“Manny is not malicious, but then you see some of that stuff and you go, ‘C’mon, man. Really?'” Machado’s former manager Buck Showalter said when reached by phone. “As a teammate, manager or coach, you’re trying to be supportive, but he has to give me something to work with. It’s hard to defend that.

As you would expect, Showalter feels a kinship with Machado, who came up through the Orioles’ system while Showalter was Baltimore’s manager. But there have been too many incidents to overlook. As Yelich pointed out, this isn’t a first offense for the soon-to-be free agent.