On Sunday afternoon in Arlington Texas, the Toronto Blue Jays took on the Texas Rangers. Seems like your normal Sunday afternoon baseball game, right? Well, it was until the seventh inning when the two teams engaged in a WWE-like brawl
The incident started all the way back in the American League Divisional Series last October. Jose Bautista hit a monstrous home run late in a decisive Game 5 to propel his team to victory. In doing so, Bautista performed an emphatic bat-flip that has been shown a ton ever since.
In baseball, the players govern themselves and don’t forget anything. The Rangers didn’t forget about the bat-flip and made sure to let Bautista know it. In the seventh inning on Sunday afternoon, Rangers relief pitcher, Matt Bush plunked Bautista in the ribs with a fastball. An upset Bautista went to first base and the very next pitch was doctored up for Bautista to get some retaliation and really set the melee into gear. A ground ball hit to third baseman Adrian Beltre was a perfect double-play ball. Bautista saw this as an opportunity to send a message.
Message received loud and clear.
Bautista slid hard into second base hard, trying to take out, but not injure Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor, who tried to take Bautista’s head off with the throw to first base. When Bautista got up, two engaged in a war-of-wards before Odor shoved Bautista. Before Bautista could retaliate, Odor clocked him with a mean right hook. This escalated the brawl, with both benches clearing, trying to either further the fight or separate the combatants.
On Tuesday afternoon, the MLB handed out the penalties for what ensued on Sunday between the two teams, who won’t meet again this season unless it is in the playoffs. The following are the suspensions and undisclosed fines handed out to players of both teams.
2B Rougned Odor – 8-game suspension
SS Elvis Andrus – 1-game suspension (won’t appeal)
P Matt Bush – Fine -Reliever who hit Bautista with a pitch
P Sam Dyson – Fine -Aggressive actions
P A.J. Griffin – Fine – On field while on the DL
C Robinson Chirinos – Fine – On field while on the DL
Bench Coach Steve Buechele – Fine – Aggressive actions
Manager John Gibbons – 3-game suspension Came onto field when brawl broke out after being ejected earlier in the game
P Jesse Chavez – 3-game suspension – Threw at Texas 1B Prince Fielder after both teams had been warned
OF Jose Bautista – 1-game suspension
1st Base Coach Tim Leiper – 1-game suspension for returning to the bench after being ejected
3B Josh Donaldson – Fine- Aggressive Actions
OF Kevin Pillar – Fine – Aggressive actions
Bench Coach DeMarlo Hale – Fined – Was serving as acting manager after Gibbons and Leiper were both ejected and Chavez his Fielder
Of course there is debate on whether these suspensions and fines are just. I felt Odor would receive a double-digit game suspension, but eight games is fine. Bautista should have been suspended for at least three games, I thought due to his retaliation and what it escalated too. Don’t forget that Bautista put his hands up after Odor shoved him, but Odor beat him to the punch, literally. Bush should have also been suspended three games, like Chavez, because without his bean ball, the two teams wouldn’t have had a street fight. Nobody can convince me otherwise that Bush’s pitch that his Bautista wasn’t intentional. There was bad blood and the Rangers, in my mind, had Bush – who has had a long, curvy road to the big leagues – told Bush to plunk Bautista.
Here’s what I don’t get about the timing of the pitch; why was this not done in any of the previous games these two teams played against one another? If the Rangers were really that upset over the bat-flip and had to stew over it all offseason, wouldn’t it make more sense to get it out of the way early? The unwritten baseball rules are what they are and sometimes revenge doesn’t come until much later than the incident that started it.
These two teams will move on, with some of the players appealing the suspensions handed out, while others will just serve the time. Now the two teams can focus on their respective division races and hope to play well enough to qualify for the postseason. If these teams both make the playoffs, they could very well see each other yet again and renew this feud.