One Step Closer To The…

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A week ago Sunday Jose Bautista made a fool of himself in the 9th inning of the only game the Rangers would manage to win against the Blue Jays this season.

With the tying runs in scoring position and 1 out, Bautista took strike one on a pitch that was low but all the way in the zone. After griping to the umpire, Joey Bats swung at a pitch up around his neck and another that bounced in the opposite batter’s box.

Still mad about the pitch that he didn’t swing at, which was the only one that actually was a strike, Bautista kept griping, got himself run out of the game, and then started throwing equipment on the field.

It was an immature display, to say the least, but one local baseball commentator liked what he saw.

He started by tweeting something like “I’d still like to see him on my team.” When pressed by his followers to elaborate on why, he explained that Bautista has edge, which Texas doesn’t currently have enough of.

Somewhere in the lengthy Twitter exchange the commentator lamented that Nelson Cruz lacks edge because he doesn’t ever throw a temper tantrum like Bautista’s. Specifically, he said he’d like to see Cruz “blow up once.”

My question is, why?

What would be the point of blowing up? To prove that he has edge? What if he doesn’t have much edge? What if that’s not who he is? Does that mean he doesn’t care? Of course it doesn’t.

The whole edge conversation reminded me of something I saw on an Angels fan forum earlier in the year. It started with one fan declaring that Anaheim was losing games because none of the players seemed to care. Another fan said “Yeah, I’d like to see Pujols toss the Gatorade cooler on the field or something” and a third fan added “Or maybe our pitchers could start throwing at hitters, just to wake everyone up.”

Many fans fall victim to this way of thinking. They use arbitrary labels to define players and let perception become their reality. A guy doesn’t care because he doesn’t have enough edge or because his body language is lacking.

In Cruz’s case, I have to wonder exactly who a “blow up” is meant to satisfy. His teammates surely know him well enough to know that A) he does care, and B) he’s not the sort of guy that pitches a fit every time a call doesn’t go his way.

What good would it do to start screaming and cussing and throwing equipment if it’s all an act? It won’t wake up his teammates, because they know it’s just a hammy farce. A few fans might applaud him for his competitive fire or whatever, but so what? Does an empty, forced display of edginess translate into more wins?

While it would be dumb to dismiss the value of edge altogether, it would be just as dumb to expect players to stage childish tantrums just so you’ll feel like they care more than they already do.

The players care, regardless of how much edge you think you see between the lines.

Press on, Rangers fans.

Mike Luna is a Staff Writer for ShutDowninning.com. He can be reached at Mike.Luna@shutdowninning.com or on Twitter @twbbg.
Mike Luna

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