By: Ryan Colpitts
In the last meeting of 2016 between the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers, a massive controversial event took place in Arlington. Things started to get heated Sunday night when the Rangers Matt Bush hit Jose Bautista to start of the eighth inning.
During Bautista’s last plate appearance, the Rangers decided it was time to get back at the creator of the bat flip. Originally Bautista would walk to first and not react. Once on base however, that’s where things began to escalate. When Justin Smoak grounded out to Adrian Béltre, who would flip the ball to Rougned Odor, Bautista would slide into second base hard almost taking out Odor. With a quick step, Odor managed to dodge what could have been a devastating slide, but he wouldn’t step down and move on. What took place next is what people will be talking about at the water coolers at work tomorrow morning.
Odor would shove Bautista and throw a massive punch right square into Bautista’s jaw that started an all out bench clearing brawl. When Josh Donaldson came out to support his teammate, he almost received the same fate as Bautista as Odor tried to punch him in defense. Once the smoke cleared, we could see John Gibbons, who had already been ejected from the game, come back onto the field to help provide some guidance to his team and separate them so they could go back to the game. On his way out, he would have some words for the Rangers bench boss Jeff Banister. Both managers would see themselves to the clubhouse for the rest of the game which a suspension looming on Gibbons for coming back out to the field.
Jose Bautista said after the game, “I had a hard slide at 2B. I could have injured him, I chose not to…tried to send a message that I didn’t appreciate getting hit.”
Once things settled, and both clubs and their fans just wanted the game to end before more wood was put into the fire, Jesse Chavez would hit Prince Fielder on the first throw. Chavez would automatically get ejected from the game and the benches would clear once more. This time there were no punches thrown, and players went back to their respective dugouts quite quickly.
Now comes the question for the night. Will both Bautista and Odor get suspended for their actions? Bautista with the illegal slide and Odor for the punch to the face. Some could argue that Bautista was trying to intentionally take out Odor and end his season. On the other side, Odor could have put Bautista on the DL with a broken jaw as he became very aggressive and clocked Jose in the face. How will one determine who should get suspended and if so, how long?
Yes, Bautista’s revenge wasn’t within the new guidelines the MLB put out this year in regards to sliding to prevent injury, but this is baseball. If Bautista and the Jays wanted to get revenge, they should have done it on the scoreboard, winning the game. Instead, they fell 7-6 after all was said and done. The Jays had a big sixth inning thanks to Jose, but would still fall short.
It will be interesting to see who the manager will be for Monday night’s game as I’ve said, Gibbons will be suspended for his re-appearance on the field in Arlington. First base coach Tim Leiper may also face suspension as he popped up into the dugout to witness the brawl, but was smart enough to not run onto the field. The Blue Jays will now head back to Toronto for a series against the Tampa Bay Rays starting Monday. J.A. Happ will face off against Drew Smyly.