Timeline: Where Bautista Could Have Saved His Jaw

Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor, left, and shortstop Elvis Andrus, right, joke around, as they leave the field after the team's 3-2 win over the Atlanta Braves, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. Odor's double drove in the winning runs. (AP Photo/John F. Rhodes)

By the time 6:30ET/5:30CT rolled around, the Rangers Jays baseball sports world was focused on Arlington, Texas, in two clubhouses that contained a lot of boiled over anger and aggression. You know this already, but a brawl happened, started by Rougned Odor as he slugged Jose Bautista across the jaw. Did it have to come to that?

I could have written dissertations on how Odor, who put himself at the edge of the national spotlight by playing with a grit and dirtbag style in the American League Division Series, just launched himself into the center at least a week’s worth of SportsCenter Top 10 Highlights. I could have written about how this feeds into the Bryce Harper-initiated, Jake Diekmanfueled movement of “#MakeBaseballFunAgain.” I could have written about how Jose Bautista honestly thought he was being a bigger man by saying that he could have purposely injured the Rangers’ 2nd Baseman, but, like comic book super-villains, “chose not to.”

Instead, I’ll write very simply and very plainly about something that, in retrospect, we’re glad never happened: How could Joey Bats have saved his jaw?

Let’s break out the timeline.

1. Jose Bautista bat flips the Blue Jays to a decisive, series-winning Game Five in the American League Division Series.

There have been hours upon hours of talk, going back to way, way, way before Bautista’s bat flip about whether victimized teams should take offense to bat flips. After all, the aforementioned “#MakeBaseballFunAgain” movement is partly based in this moment – this is emotion at its purest: unfiltered, unapologetic, dramatic. You want to flip a bat? Flip the bat. You just turned the game around in the playoffs. You want to pump your fist emphatically after a strikeout as you’re nearing the end of your time on the mound? Let it all out. You just struck out twenty. Here’s what all of that, and trying to tie it into the unwritten baseball rules, forgets: Whether you believe they should or shouldn’t take offense is irrelevant – the question is: Did they? Athletes have egos of one size or another, and if those egos are bruised or insulted in any way, shape, or form, there will be retaliation.

2. The Rangers face the Blue Jays in Toronto for a four-game set. Nothing happens. Bautista goes 1-for-18.

Really, Bautista’s performance at the plate has nothing to do with the events leading to The Brawl. It just felt like a good thing to point out. Was this a Trojan Horse delivered by the Rangers? Was it strategic planning to not incite anything in the Blue Jays’ house? Who knows? For the moment, however, everyone assumed that the worst was over.

These next few come in rapid succession, as I’m sure you know.

3. Matt Bush plunks Jose Bautista.

Irrelevant – where and who. Relevant – when and why. As I stated in point Number One (1), it does not matter whether they should or should not have taken exception to Bautista’s bat flip. The point is they took exception to the bat flip. Anyone who is remotely a baseball fan understands that this is one of the “Unwritten Rules” of the game. As such, the retaliation – a pitched ball with the intent (yes, intent; I’m not going to treat you like idiots and say ‘it got away’) of hitting the batter – should be equally understood as an expectation. Again, it doesn’t matter whether one agrees with the notion or not – that’s a completely separate discussion – it is a part of the game.

JOEY COULD HAVE SAVED HIS JAW HERE.

In most baseball games, it’s directly a one-for-one unwritten rules transaction. Batter flips bat, another batter (or the same one) gets plunked. The End. Batter gets hit, opposing batter gets hit. The End. Runner slides dirty, opposing batter gets hit. The end. Some form or combination of those scenarios can take place in a baseball game and nobody bats an eye.

Was the timing weird? Absolutely. Waiting until the (probable) final at-bat of the season series is not conventional. Usually, a retaliation pitch happens in the first at-bat, the first pitch, against the offending player. Why wait until the last bat? Perhaps, fittingly, because the final image that Texas had of Jose Bautista in 2015, that they had to stew over for seven months, was the bat flip that cost them the Division Championship, the lasting image the Rangers wanted to give Toronto in 2016, what they wanted them to keep replaying was Bautista getting drilled in the ribs while frenzied fans stood and cheered.

At any rate, that’s where this little drama could have stopped. Jose Bautista took it one step further.

4. Jose Bautista slides hard and late into Rougned Odor “attempting to break up a double play.”

Ignore the fact that the slide was 2016-illegal. Ignore the fact that most baseball players, Odor included, would have slid that way to try to break up the double play. This wasn’t about breaking up a double play. If it was, Jose Bautista could have just said so after the game. Bautista started to slide as his foot hit the bag. This was a deliberate “take out” slide, designed, maybe, just to send a message, but more likely to “take out” the first person that Bautista could – the next fielder in his basepath.

JOEY COULD HAVE SAVED HIS JAW HERE.

5. Jose Bautista pops up out of the slide and immediately turns to confront Rougned Odor.

Again, if this was just about breaking up the double play, Bautista pops up out of that slide, maybe turns to see if a double play was turned, and trots back to the dugout. Again, the retaliation for the bat flip, although odd in timing, was executed. Instead, Jose Bautista decided to go face-to-face with an equally hot-headed baseball player.

JOEY COULD HAVE SAVED HIS JAW HERE.

6. Jose Bautista cocks back and starts to ball his right hand up.

Well, at this point, there’s no saving you, Jose Bautista. Odor may have shot first, but Bautista drew the gun under the table.

odor

Bang.

Zoom.

Right in the kisser.

Instant Classic.

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Matt Fisher
Matt Fisher is an Editor/Staff Writer for ShutdownInning. He is a baseball lifer, preferring to use the eye test and rely on the knowledge and analysis of baseball minds greater than his, while using relevant stats to encourage situational discussions. He is also co-host of The Most Valuable Podcast on the NextWave Radio Network, talking sports, entertainment, and sports entertainment.

While Matt's favorite team will always be his hometown Texas Rangers, he knows the ongoing story lines of every team in Major League Baseball. If you sit next to him at a game, be prepared to hear him try and do play-by-play. If you're famous and reading this, just know that he's not afraid to drop names.

Matt Fisher. ShutdownInning Editor/Staff Writer

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