Baseball's unwritten rules are once again under fire after an ugly brawl between the Rangers and Blue Jays
The benches and bullpens cleared in the 8th inning of the Rangers and Blue Jays game on Sunday afternoon after a hard Joey Bautista slide into second base led to good, old-fashioned base-brawl.
Before players from either team could intervene, Rangers second-baseman Rougned Odor landed a hard punch square in Bautista's cheek, knocking off his helmet and sunglasses.
The Jays and Rangers, remember, met in last season's playoffs, during which Bautista unleashed the most controversial bat flip in MLB history. Sunday's game marked the final meeting between the two teams this season, and when Bautista came to the plate in the 8th he was promptly beaned in the ribs by rookie pitcher Matt Bush.
On the next play, as the Rangers tried to turn a double-play, Bautista flew into second base with a late slide. Odor and Bautista came together, which was a big mistake for Bautista:
Benches immediately cleared, some more punches were thrown, and several players on both sides were ejected. Later in the game, the Jays retaliated and hit Prince Fielder.
After the game ended (the Rangers won, by the way), the conversation shifted toward the various violations of baseball's unwritten rules. Bautista's bat-flip (itself a violation of the unwritten rules in the eyes of some) happened seven months ago, and yet the Rangers evidently hadn't gotten over it. They waited until their final meeting of the regular season to send Bautista a message, though, which the Jays especially did not like because it prevents them from being able to retaliate later on in the season.
Toronto manager John Gibbons did not appreciate that the Rangers waited so long to retaliate.From Gibbons:
"To me, it was gutless. The other 29 teams, they come at you right away, but to wait until the end, it just sort of tells you something."
And Bautista said he felt the Rangers played the game the wrong way:
"It shows, at least the apparent lack of leadership that they have over there when it comes to playing baseball the right way. Baseball players are supposed to be taken care of with baseball plays. I thought it was pretty cowardly of them to wait until my last at-bat to do that in the whole series. They could have come out and done it, if they wanted to send a message. Again, it shows a little bit more of their colors."
What's more, the Rangers were ahead by just one run when they went after Bautista, and there were no outs in the inning. Putting him on base could have cost them the game, which — again — feels like a lot considering this entire episode goes back to something that happened seven months ago. Rangers' manager Jeff Banister insisted that Bush had not intentionally gone after Bautista.
Bautista gave Odor credit for the punch, though it was pretty back-handed:
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Expect Bautista and Odor to both be suspended.
If we're lucky, these two teams will meet again in the playoffs.