With a name like centerfield6, it’s only apropos that we leadoff the week and this blog with events from the diamond and yesterdays highlighted baseball game.
In case you haven’t yet seen nor heard, there was an actual basebrawl between the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays. Yes, I know in most cases when it is said that there’s a “fight” on the baseball field it really means that both dugouts emptied, there was a lot of sharing of pleasantries back and forth for a few minutes with perhaps a bit of pushing and shoving until everyone’s had their fill and the umpires and coaches are able to restore “order”. Yesterday, however, was another story entirely. Punches were not only thrown but they landed and did so squarely on the jaw of the intended recipient who claimed to be “surprised” by the punch.
Here’s the story complete with the absolute necessary background information. Approximately seven months ago in a very heated, emotional series and game, Jose Bautista hit a game and series wining home run in the American League Division Series to knock the Texas Rangers out of the playoffs. Ok, no big deal, right? Well, it likely wouldn’t have been were it not for the famous, or should we say infamous Bat Flip Heard ‘Round the World and semi-stare by Bautista after he blasted his walk off three-run homer off Sam Dyson to advance the Blue Jays to the ALCS and send the Rangers packing. Needless to say, after Joey Bats defended his bat flip with no apology, Dyson and the rest of the Rangers were not in a forgiving nor forgetting mode. Ergo, anyone who knows anything about the unwritten rules of baseball knew that there’d be some retribution next (this) season when the two teams met at some point. Usually, said retribution happens early in the series to get it over with.
However, for some reason, likely only known by the Rangers’ coaches, they decided to get “even” by hitting Bautista fairly and squarely below the shoulder in the arm during his last at bat of the series and regular season. All things considered, I’m not sure why Bautista had a problem with it considering his semi-stare, bat flip, and knowing the unwritten rules. Yes, he will surely awaken with noticeable soreness, to say the least. Yet, if one is to get hit by a baseball thrown upwards of 90mph, purposely or not, then be ok with the fact that it was in an area that will absorb some of the shock with nothing broken, injured, nor permanently damaged. No, I am not a proponent of pitchers, of which I was one, purposely throwing at anyone. On the other hand, Joey Bats had no right to flip (pun intended) when he got drilled, nor what he did after reaching first base with the Hit By Pitch.
That brings us to the events of yesterday. With Jose Bautista on first, the next batter hit a ground ball to third. The third baseman threw to Rougned Odor at second for the force out. Bautista slid in hard and somewhat late and high to break up the possible double play and perhaps get a bit of revenge of his own nearly taking out the second baseman’s legs in the process behind the base. Bautista got up immediately and glared at Odor who obviously and understandably took exception to the late, high slide. Odor walked toward Joey Bats, words and shoves were exchanged. Then, both players raised hands ready to punch. Odor landed his cleanly on the side of Bautista’s jaw area dazing him momentarily. The benches and bull pens empty and the brawl is on! Texas’ Adrian Beltre runs and grabs Bautista to separate the two, and a few players push Odor to the other side of the field. Some pushing and shoving ensued as well as jawing between the teams for a few minutes before they finally made their way back to their respective dugouts and bull pens.
Should this have been over after Joey Bats was hit in the arm? Should he have been hit after seven months and almost two series later? Should Bautista have made the slide he did? Should Odor have been so upset? Should he have confronted and punched Bautista? Should Dyson and the Rangers have been so appalled and had such a long memory with vengeance regarding the bat flip? Should baseball’s unwritten rules be altered or even abolished? Should the Blue Jays execute revenge on Odor? Should it be over? That’s Baseball!