Jose Bautista is a polarizing baseball player. People either love him or loathe him. After his bat flip in Game 5 of the ALDS, fans are fairly divided when it comes to Joey Bats.
Not surprisingly, people are also divided on Jose Bautista and Rougned Odor’s dust-up over the weekend as well. Depending on whom you ask, some say Bautista had it coming all along. Others say Odor’s actions were completely unwarranted.
No, Jose Bautista did not have it coming. He didn’t deserve to get punched in the face in the middle of a Major League Baseball game. To be honest, nobody really does.
I think that’s what I have the most trouble with; that some are celebrating the fact that Rougned Odor not only shoved Jose Bautista, but then he clocked him and proceeded to hit him a few more times before someone could intervene.
Bautista didn’t see it coming … but you want to know why? Because he wasn’t looking for a fight; clearly, Rougned Odor was.
Not to get all sanctimonious about being a parent, but Jose Bautista has two young daughters at home. Would he really want them to see him throwing punches on the baseball field? I very much doubt it. It’s a horrible example to set, and as a father myself, it was troubling to see that fight take place.
Jose Bautista is a wise man … he does things with purpose. He knows how to push people’s buttons and how to get a reaction, but that’s hardly deserving of being assaulted.
How many times has Jose Bautista been thrown at by the Baltimore Orioles and he’s simply taken his base? If we used the Rougned Odor rationale of thinking, he’d charge the mound every time he was thrown at.
Bautista doesn’t do that and never has done that. He’s simply answered with his bat, not his fist.
I absolutely despise how Rougned Odor is being lauded as some sort of “hero” for his actions. Odor claimed he was “standing up for himself” … standing up for what, exactly? Bautista sliding into second base? Last time I checked, slides into second are commonplace in baseball.
Odor himself is guilty of making plenty of questionable slides over the years, ones that were bar more barbaric than Bautista’s.
And some are saying Jose Bautista could’ve diffused the situation by simply heading off the field after his slide into the bag. Bautista wasn’t looking for a fight; he was probably shocked that he nearly had his head taken off with the throw by Odor.
Wouldn’t you do something similar if you almost got thrown at in the head?
In what universe does a human being deserve to get punched on a baseball field … ever? Since when did this suddenly devolve to using violence to settling things? Aren’t guys like Rougned Odor better than that?
Sure, you may not agree with Jose Bautista’s bat flip. You may not like how he conducts himself on the field. But in no way does that ever give somebody a reason to physically harm the man. If that’s the way disputes were solved on the field, games would look a lot more like Bars Wars on the NES.
Also, how could Rougned Odor justify his actions when he was the one who approached Jose Bautista and instigated the entire thing? Odor single-handedly escalated things when they had absolutely no reason to be brought to that level.
Plenty of former and current players are standing in support of Odor and somehow insinuating that Bautista was asking to get punched. Again, this hearkens back to Bautista being a polarizing player, and others planting their flagpole on either side of the bat flip debate.
But really, why did this even need to get to this level between the Blue Jays and the Rangers? It was mishandled in every way imaginable, and the way things transpired almost made it seem like this brawl was inevitable from the onset of the series in Texas.
Whether the Rangers want to admit it or not … this all stemmed from the Game 5 bat flip last October. They’ve been harbouring anger for seven months and were simply waiting for an excuse to go after Bautista. When he slid hard into second base, that’s all the Rangers needed to justify attacking Bautista.
This all had very little to do with Jose Bautista’s hard slide into second base, because that was hardly a “dirty slide” into the bag, as Bautista could’ve done much, much worse under the circumstances. The scope of this is much larger than one slide into second.
In many ways, I feel like that fight between Jose Bautista and Rougned Odor was a metaphor for the battle between baseball purists and the modern era of baseball. Odor stood up for “playing the game the right way” and Bautista represented “the new hope”.
This incident has revealed there’s still a large divide in the game … as there is a certain subset that believes Rougned Odor was in the right and Jose Bautista was in the wrong.
If anything, MLB needs to protect players like Jose Bautista more than ever. Stars like Jose Bautista, Bryce Harper and Yasiel Puig are cultivating a brand new fan base amongst baseball; MLB must allow these players to be themselves and not fear upsetting others with their actions.
Unless players are showing blatant disrespect for others, there’s no way their actions should ever be deserving of a punch or a kick. That’s an asinine and barbaric way of policing the game, and it has no place in baseball anymore.
Image via Getty Images/Ronald Martinez