The Texas Rangers announcer had it right when he said that the Toronto Blue Jays emotional, provocative and controversial slugger Jose Bautista, "...picked the wrong guy to slide into second base hard..."
On Sunday night, it cost him a two-piece and a biscuit from Texas’ Rougned Odor.
Bautista, who is known to ruffle feathers with his unapologetically demonstrative MLB swag and cockiness -- which some players feel borders on disrespecting the game -- slid hard into second base, stood up and was jaw to jaw with Odor.
The two guys exchanged pleasantries, and then Odor flipped the script, pushing Joey Bats. He then rocked him with a straight right to the face, which stumbled Bautista like a prizefighter staggering into the ropes in the late rounds of a championship fight.
There was already bad blood between the Blue Jays and Texas Rangers and Toronto manager John Gibbons, who was ejected in the third inning for arguing balls and strikes, hinted after the game on MLB Network that the brawl was retaliation for Bautista's flamboyant bat flip in the seventh inning of Game 5 of last year’s American League Division Series.
"Joey Bats" capped that dramatic inning with a clutch three-run homer that helped send the Blue Jays to the American League Championship Series.
In an emotionally charged series, Bautista's bat flip was the ultimate in “rubbing it in.” Showing an opponent up is somewhat expected in the other major sports, but in baseball it has traditionally been considered bush league and an offense worthy of retaliation.
After the Rangers defeated Toronto 7-6 in an ugly game marred by eight ejections, Bautista played the innocent victim, acting as if he had no idea why his hard slide was taken with such exception.
“I was pretty surprised,” said Bautista to reporters after the game according to the Daily News. “I mean, obviously, that’s the only reason that he got me and got me pretty good, so I have to give him that. It takes a little bit bigger man to knock me down.”
Players on both sides had strong opinions on the matter and Twitter was popping with check-ins from the baseball universe. Some guys were against it.
Toronto manager Gibbons said, “To me, it was gutless.”
Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman tweeted: “Zero respect for Odor. Never had respect for him, never will.”
Former slugger and PED prince Jose Canseco went in: “What a cheap shot on Bautista by Odor. Bautista should break that punk in half...He should beat his ass prison style...weak sucker punch.”
There’s no doubt that Texas saw Bautista's bat flip last season as a cheap shot so they obviously fought fire with fire.
Everyone wasn’t salty with Odor though.
Retired MLB hurler Mark Mulder tweeted: “Odor might have topped Nolan Ryan (for best straight right hand ever in a baseball fight). Well maybe.”
The Ryan Express wasn't only K'ing batters at the age of 46, he was dispensing street discipline to youngsters like 26-year-old Robin Ventura.
Former pitcher C.J. Nitkowski praised the old school way the teams worked out their issues from last season. “See? We don’t need these pansy new slide rules," Nitkowski said. "Let the boys handle it themselves. Keep the nerds out, this game has always policed itself.”
And brawls have always been a part of MLB's package. A very small part, but a necessary evil as the occasional fisticuffs adds an excitement to a sport that can get be monotonous and unexciting to the casual fan.
There is emotion and passion in baseball. And some occasional violence and drama. It’s the reason why Bautista flipped his bat in the first place Why should Empire steal all of the ratings?
At the time of the bat flip in last year's ALCS, Bautista said, “It was just the moment. I felt it, I did it.”
Odor is surely saying the same thing about the “punch heard around Texas.”