I really hope that we are starring rock bottom in the face, because I am not sure how much more of this we can handle.
Mood in Song Form
Alright, that might be a little dramatic. Let me try and cheer up the mood a little bit.
That’s right. What could possible signify rock bottom more than rap rock from the year 2000?
I just got home from the Jays and Rays series closer, a series in which the Jays were outscored 30-7. Yikes.
Let’s jump back to Sunday which started as a typical 2016 Blue Jays game; The starting pitcher performed admirably, the team scored some runs and appeared in position to win the game before the Bullpen gave up a 3 run shot to blow the lead. Standard stuff. I feel like I have seen that 20 times already this season.
Things got weird when Texas called on Bush to drill Bautista in the ribs in his last scheduled at bat against them this season. Then Rougned Odor decided that he was going to make up for a couple of errors in last year’s infamous 7th inning of game 5 of the ALDS by sucker punching Bautista in the face after a hard slide into second base. Odor was suspended 8 games, while Bautista received 1 for his involvement on the field, as well as comments afterwards mock Odor and criticizing the umpire.
Let’s break this play down into all of its components:
Gibby called the Rangers cowards for waiting to hit Bautista in the last at bat of the season. While I don’t necessarily agree that it was cowardly, it was a petty move and one that should have resulted in Bush being immediately ejected from the game. Everyone who has watched these two teams over the last year knew this was coming at some point, and the Umpire failed to handle the situation appropriately. The responsible thing to do would be to error on the side of caution and eject Bush. Clearly that didn’t happen.
It has long been known that coming in hard at second after an intentional plunk is the logical conclusion of being put on base. Odor knew that Jose was going to be coming in hot. Given the emphasis on the new rules, I thought Jose’s slide was actually incredibly appropriate. He didn’t leave the direct path of the base, and he didn’t even make content with Odor. Yes he slid past the base and was trying to send a message, but it wasn’t putting anyone in danger or really outside of the rules. And for Odor, here is a shot of some of his great slide work over the years:
Odor 100% threw the ball at Bautista’s head as he was coming in to second. I think it was clear to him that Jose was going to over slide the base, so instead of trying to get an impossible double play (that he would get awarded anyways based on the slide) he dropped his arm low and threw the ball directly at Bautista’s face:
With essentially no contact at second base, the ball ends up in right field either from hitting Bautista in the head, or attempting to. In some ways this is the most deplorable act of the day. A Baseball to the face would hurt a heck of a lot more than a punch. By the time the ball was being thrown Bautista wasn't coming in particularly high either.
So, we have a player slide in hard and a 2nd baseman throw the ball at his head. The push from Odor is a fine reaction in my opinion. You want to push a guy in a baseball game? I’m good with that. If things were to end there everything would be fine. But then Odor takes things to 11 by throwing a haymaker of a right hand that hits Jose right on the jaw. He then follows up with a failing left with his glove on before throwing another hellish right hand that misses. I consider this punch one of the greatest sucker punches I have ever seen, because I don’t think anyone in that Stadium or watching on TV expected Odor to react that way, except maybe his minor league teammates. Clearly Bautista didn’t anticipate it either. In an era of sports fights being “hold me back” moments where machismo is on display with little threat of a real altercation there is almost no scenario where it seemed logical that Odor was react throwing bombs like that.
Additionally, I highly doubt there are more than 4 players in all of baseball who would have reacted that way, and Odor is likely the only infielder. There is simply too much money to be lost by reacting in this fashion. If Bautista was KO’d, or Odor broke his hand, or Bautista broke his jaw the reaction to this event wouldn’t be the comical amusement that has taken over the internet.
Probably the part of this whole equation that has me most upset is that Odor’s suspension was only 8 games. I find this incredibly low given his actions of throwing a ball at a player’s head, pushing a player, and then hitting him with a haymaker and attempting to do it again. How do I know it is too low? Because if our best player Josh Donaldson had sucker punched Odor on the chin after this altercation I would gladly trade 8 games in that transaction. Every single Texas fan and members of their team thinks it was a good trade. And that means it simply wasn’t harsh enough.
Let’s put it in another context. The people arguing that if Odor did this outside of a game he would be facing criminal charges are clearly out to lunch. Sports exist in a bizarro world with self-governance and no ramifications outside of that. However, there is some value to comparing this to other professional leagues and seeing what might have happened in those situations:
NBA – If you throw a punch in the NBA you are immediately ejected from the game and are facing a lengthy suspension. Ron Artest received a full season for his role in the Malace at the Palace, while Carmelo Anthony’s suspension of 15 games for throwing a feeble punch and turning and running is probably the most comparable in this situation. In either case, the player received a longer suspension, in a much shorter season.
NHL – Punching is still endorsed in the NHL so Odor would have received a minor penalty and been back out for the 9th inning.
NFL – an in-game punch is an immediate ejection, followed usually by an additional one game suspension. So… The NFL takes an in-game punch as seriously or more seriously than punches thrown in elevators to spouses, but not as seriously as punches thrown in elevators to spouses caught on film… That is a 4 game suspension.
English Premier League – Tottenham recently had a player suspended 3 games for a punch, which is approximately 8.5% of the season. It was a punch to the stomach that the player literally ran away from looking slightly upset. It had all of the violence of two kittens playing.
The point of all of this is to show that in almost any other league, the result of a punch like that would have been a significantly more severe punishment. The MLB got this wrong. And they got it wrong by about 30 games.
The Silver Lining?
Kevin Pillar, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson all came flying to the rescue of Jose. I love how this team sticks together, and if we are going to turn around the recent woes of the club, that will be the reason why.
Finally, for all of those people suggesting that somehow Jose deserved this for flipping a bat, you are idiots. In what league does celebrating one of the greatest sporting moments in franchise history mean you deserve to be hit with a 96 mph ball in the ribs? No part of that makes sense. This type of thinking puts you in a class with people who think the world is flat. But even worse than that, it puts you on the same side of the argument as Greg Zaun. Let that sink in.
Long Live Bautista. His strong jaw and cheekbone are probably already healed, and his legend will never die.