Sniff sniff sniff…What’s that I smell? Is it another rivalry brewing? I think it is. Things heated up in Arlington yesterday afternoon, when the Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers got involved in a benches clearing brawl. So the question begs; is this good for baseball?
The reason for the sparks flying dates back to last year, when Jays’ slugger, Jose Bautista hit a monstrous homerun against the Rangers in game five of the Divisional Series of the playoffs. Instead of rounding the bases like a professional, Bautista chucked his bat and admired his work from the batter’s box, breaking one of baseball’s unwritten rules. The bat flip sent shock waves around the league, and clearly upset many Ranger players. Rangers’ ace, Cole Hamels said “It’s hard to be politically correct. It’s tough to see. A lot of us on our team don’t carry ourselves that way,” in regards to Bautista’s bat flip. The Blue Jays won this game on the back of Bautista’s heroics and moved on to the ALCS, leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of many Ranger players.
The Rangers finally got their revenge yesterday when Rangers’ fireballer, Matt Bush, sent a 98 MPH fastball into the ribs of Bautista. Clearly intentional, Bautista put his head down and made his way to first base. Later on in the inning Bautista slide hard into second base taking out Rangers’ second baseman Rougned Odor. Odor did not take kindly of Bautista’s slide and laid a mean right hook into the jaw of Bautista. The benches cleared and multiple brawls ensued.
So, is this good for baseball? This is a hard question for me to answer. As a lover of the sport, I see the beauty in every single pitch, but baseball has been said to be boring, slow, and uneventful. Even superstars, Bryce Harper and Yasiel Puig have been promoting the “make baseball fun again,” apparel. Baseball has been declining in popularity over the past two decades and brawls like these are sure to catch the attention of even the casual sports fan. Rivalries such as the Red Sox and Yankees seem to be dying out and brawls between those teams seem to be a thing of the past. Rivalries in all sports are necessary and they create extra intensity between the players.
Baseball can use the extra intensity in my opinion. I don’t mind the bat flips and I don’t mind the retaliation by the Rangers. In fact, I love it. If you are going to show up a pitcher by staring at your homerun, then flip your bat like a bad ass, you should be prepared to get a fastball to the ribs. If you don’t want that then get your ass around the bases. It’s as simple as that. Bautista did try and take out Odor with that slide. I respect Odor for standing up for himself. If Bautista doesn’t want to get punched in the face, then don’t slide into his knees. Once again, it’s as simple as that. Unfortunately, the Rangers and Jays don’t play each other again this year, but who knows, we may see these sparks fly again come October.