Sunday’s “basebrawl” between Rougned Odor and Jose Bautista was better than many professional fights.
Odor’s right-hand punch to Bautista’s jaw was so accurate that boxers and their trainers should add this fight’s footage to the list of things that they watch and study.
“He got me pretty good, so I have to give him that,” said Bautista. “But it takes a little bit of a bigger man, I guess, to knock me down.”
Whether Bautista was knocked down or not, Odor, the Rangers’ second baseman, settled a score between the two teams that began during the playoffs last fall.
Bautista flipped his bat after hitting a home run, which is a violation of baseball’s unwritten rules—rules set by its players.
The Rangers, like the fury of Hell and a woman scorned, evidently hadn’t gotten over being disrespected, in their minds, in their view, seven months ago, strategically waiting until Toronto’s final at bat of their last regular-season game against them to retaliate, to deliver and implement their message, their thoughts and their feelings.
Bautista, up to bat in the eighth inning, was intentionally hit, allegedly. Beaned as players describe it, by a pitch from the Rangers’ rookie pitcher, Matt Bush, who wasn’t even on the team last year.
The fight ensued at second base, after an exceptionally hard slide by Bautista. On-field players ran to second, as did players and coaches from each team’s dugout.
Baseball’s unwritten rules, disses, are like its strike zone, left to interpretation. A 90-plus miles per hour fast ball to the body of a hitter is usually the payback for disrespecting players, their team or the game of baseball. This conflict is what rivalries are built from. And players and teams have long memories. They don’t forget, and they are not concerned about suspensions or penalties: one game for Bautista and eight for Odor. They’re both contesting the decision.
Under the unwritten rules, players are reprimanded for a variety of things, such as running slowly around the bases, hot-dogging, celebrating after a home run, showing an opponent up when the game is out of reach for the loser and bunting in late innings to break up a no-hitter.
My favorite is a player standing at home plate, admiring how his home run sails out of the field area into the seats, the way Big Papi of the Boston Red Sox does or former New York Yankee Reggie Jackson use to do. If I could hit a home run, I’d stand there, too, and admire it, and then flip my bat and slowly run around the bases. After all, if you’re going to get mad at someone, get mad at the pitcher who threw the pitch.