Joey Baut's Bat Flip Revisited In Recent Brawl
When I heard the boo's coming from the 40,000 fans at the game, I looked at the hitter expecting to see a former Astro player. Many fans still voice their displeasure about Houston's cheating scandal, even though most of the culprits are now wearing different uniforms.
It was an August 17 game in Toronto that I was watching, so the boo's were coming from the Rodgers Centre. I did a double check to make sure that it was actually the Orioles who were the opponents, a team with no former Astros on the roster nor any unpopular star (e.g. Manny Machado, Tim Anderson, Javier Baez) commonly greeted with such hostility.
A few seconds after identifying the hitter, I realized exactly why the Toronto fans were being so rude. They were remembering the incident from almost a decade ago involving this batter, Roughned Odor.
Blue Jay fans obviously were recalling May 13, 2016, which happened to be Friday the Thirteenth. Odor, who was then the Texas Rangers shortstop, punched Toronto slugger Jose Bautista in the face as the latter was breaking up a play at second.
Mayhem of course ensued, both benches clearing along with several ejections. Even though it was the first meeting of the two teams that season, the trouble between them had started the previous October.
Toronto had been pitted against Odor's Texas team in a heated American League Division Series, a five game battle that was decided on a home run by Bautista. With the score tied heading into the bottom of the seventh inning of game five, Bautista blasted a three run home run that proved to be the game winner.
While the Texas players were disheartened by the blow, what angered them was Bautista's celebration. He engaged in an exaggerated bat flip while still at the plate admiring the blast, and that gesture was still on Odor's mind come the following May.
Now seven years later, it is still on the mind of Toronto fans. When Odor stepped up to the plate in Rodgers Centre, he was greeted with a chorus of boo's.
Those disagreeable interjections, several months later, led to a benches-clearing brawl between the Blue Jays and Odor's new team. Should both clubs qualify for Wild Card spots, the bad feelings begun in 2015 may even become more rancorous this October.