The feud between the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays has been heavily documented, highly explosive and hit the boiling point this weekend.
Jose Bautista is a name known to all Texas Rangers fans and mostly comes with a negative connotation. It dates back to the 2015 AL Wild Card series against the Toronto Blue Jays with the bat flip seen ’round the world.
Texas Rangers fans and players alike did not take kindly to this display of interpreted disrespect and on Sunday, seemingly something was done about it. In the final game of the season series between these two teams, Bautista finally got hit by a pitch like we’d expected for some time now.
Newly promoted reliever, Matt Bush, hit Joey Bats with a 96-mph fastball to the rib cage in the eighth inning of a 7-6 ballgame. Whether or not this was intentional is hard to decipher mostly because at the time, Bautista represented the tying run and with no outs, it’s hard to imagine this being the time that Texas wanted to send a message.
Regardless of intention however, Bautista was less that thrilled by his beaning and made that feeling known on a Justin Smoak potential double play ball. Bautista slid hard, illegally and in my opinion dirtily into second base to break up the double play and send a message. The late slide drew the ire of Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor who confronted Bautista, and then delivered the right hook of the year squarely to Jose’s jaw.
Following all of this, calamity ensued with benches clearing, pushing and shoving occurring and Kevin Pillar running around seemingly going after Odor although electing not to challenge that devastating right fist. Check out the entire brawl below.
See, Pillar wanted none of Rougie. This as you can imagine led to a number of ejections including Odor, Bautista, Josh Donaldson and pretty much every Blue Jays coach out there.
Since all of this happened, the debate has been whether or not Odor was justified in his reaction to Bautista. That comes down to how dirty do you view Bautista’s slide in the first place. This break up slide is one that’s been in baseball for decades now but newly changed this season, is now illegal. That’s what makes this slide so dirty.
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Bautista is quoted as saying that if he wanted to hurt Odor he could have and although he didn’t, the slide was one with a high risk of injury to the second baseman. With the rule change regarding this slide, Bautista essentially guaranteed that the double play would be given to Texas regardless of the return throw to first.
With that being said, Bautista’s late slide had no possible beneficial outcome for Toronto which is what Odor took exception to. The slide was not only late, but Bautista left his legs up seemingly looking to find contact with Odor’s legs. This in and of itself is what makes this a dirty slide. Jose risked extreme injury to Odor in the way of a broken leg or torn ligaments, while knowing that it was only going to cause a detrimental outcome for his team.
Odor was perfectly justified in his anger with the cheap slide and reacted the way any 22-year old would who was a second away from having his entire season ended and career put on the line because of one player’s inability to drop the issue.
In response to the punch, the MLB suspended Rougned Odor for 8 games although expectations are that he will appeal. The Texas Rangers also had Elvis Andrus suspended for one game for throwing a punch at Kevin Pillar although I have yet to see the actual punch.
The Blue Jays will lose Jose Bautista for a single game which is a travesty in my book considering he’s just as at fault as Odor.
Manager John Gibbons was suspended three games for re-entering the field of play after having been ejected earlier in the game. Odor was also fined $5,000 by Major League Baseball however many expect some of Rougie’s more handsomely paid teammates will take care of that for him.