I guess I will add my voice to the chorus of opinions out there today on the fight during the Ranger/Blue Jays game yesterday. There is certainly a lot of hand-wringing going on, and lots of “ink” being spilled by sportswriters across the country. I will try to keep my remarks to the point.
Odor will get suspended and that’s certainly warranted. As much as I enjoyed seeing Jose Bautista get punched, you shouldn’t be allowed to do that, to anyone, and not get punished.
That being said, I jumped out of my seat and cheered like the Rangers had won the World Series the first time I saw that punch. That was one of the most satisfying things I’ve seen in sports. Jose Bautista deserved every bit of that punch and probably more. And not JUST because of the bat flip. He’s been a jerk for a long time, and many many players in the league cannot stand him. Daniel McCutchen, in a since deleted tweet, summed up the feelings of a lot of players:
Bautista’s a guy that talks a lot of trash when he plays well, but can’t take it himself. He’s a whiner who has spent much of the series with the Rangers slamming helmets down, throwing bats, and complaining about the umpires. If I had to pick one guy in the league who needs to get punched in the face, it would be harder to find a more deserving candidate.
That’s what makes it so hilarious to hear Bautista and Blue Jays manager John Gibbons claim that the Rangers don’t play the game the “right way.” As Craig Calcaterra said at NBC Sports,
Bautista dropping the “play the game the right way” bomb after the game last night is one of the more hilarious things I’ve heard in a long time. A guy is gonna say what he needs to say to get through a postgame interview, but for him to not acknowledge that just about every anti-Bautista sentiment since last October’s bat flip wasn’t grounded in some variation of “that’s not playing the game the right way” is high comedy and a painful lack of self-awareness. Jose Bautista is now gonna police purpose pitches? OK. Maybe Carlos Gomez can hand out fines for excessive on-field exuberance and Bryce Harper be the head master of baseball’s new Institute for the Personality Restraint.
Gibbons went on to complain that the Rangers should not have waited to throw at Bautista until his last at-bat of the season in Arlington. He called it “gutless.” This is ridiculous of course. 1310 The Ticket radio host Bob Sturm sums up the absurdity here:
I was told that after the game, Rangers radio host Eric Nadel was tough on Odor. I like that. That fits what I know about Nadel. I’ve listened to him for years. He’s my favorite Ranger announcer. And I wouldn’t expect him to approach this situation any differently. I also liked Tom Grieve’s take on television. Grieve played the game, and without saying it, his attitude seemed to be, “Well sometimes you just gotta punch a guy in the face.” I have both those feelings about The Punch. It’s hard for me to condone what Odor did. You shouldn’t punch a guy in the face. But, eh….sometimes you’ve just gotta punch a guy in the face.
All that being said, had Odor been on the receiving end of a Bautista punch I would spend this space saying all the things Blue Jays fans are saying today. Sports are incredibly tribal and when our favorite team wins a “battle” it feels awesome. But when our team loses one, it sucks. Rougned Odor won the battle yesterday and the Rangers won the game. I would have hated to have lost the game after The Punch. But they didn’t. Sam Dyson, who should be the closer anyway, came in and shut it down. The Rangers won the fight, won the game, and won the series. That concluded a very satisfying weekend of baseball.