When Jose Bautista tossed his bat a mile and a half after hitting a three-run homerun in the deciding game of last season’s American League Division Series against the Texas Rangers, he broke one of the “unwritten rules of baseball.”
Bautista’s bat-flip instantly became an internet sensation, and regardless of fan affiliation, you have to admit it was a great punctuation point on a moon shot homerun. The Rangers on the other hand did not enjoy this showmanship, and had been nursing their hurt egos until their final game against the Toronto Blue Jays this regular season.
In the top of the 8th inning during their matchup on Sunday, Matt Bush intentionally plunked Bautista in what would ultimately be his final at-bat against Texas this year. A Justin Smoak double play ground ball just two batters later would allow all hell to break loose at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.
Despite the fact that he had no shot of breaking the double play up, Bautista slid hard and late into the legs of Texas’ second baseman, Rougned Odor. Odor wasn’t going to stand for this act of disrespect, and he hit Bautista with a hard right cross immediately after the slide.
A bench clearing brawl ensued, leaving eight total players ejected from the game, and Bautista now on the wrong side of all of the social media jokes.
Odor justified his actions even though he understood that there would certainly be repercussions, “I can tell when someone is coming hard to second base, so I was just trying to protect myself. I know I’m going to be suspended for a couple of games.” The 22 year old’s prediction was correct, as the MLB issued him an eight game suspension, as well as a $5,000 fine. Bautista on the other hand is reportedly only receiving a one game suspension for his role in the altercation.
The brawl did cause a ton of excitement around the sporting world, but Major League Baseball does not want to increase their coverage because of incidents like that. Ex-manager and current MLB chief baseball officer, Joe Torre was less than pleased about Sunday’s antics, “It certainly wasn’t pretty, and I hate seeing that stuff.”
Odor and the Rangers felt like they did what they had to do to protect their pride, and Bautista wasn’t going to get intentionally hit without any retaliation, so it’s difficult to blame either party. It’s fortunate for the MLB that this budding rivalry won’t meet again this regular season, but fans of the sport may be disappointed that there won’t be the chance for more bad blood.