Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS with the Texas Rangers taking on the Toronto Blue Jays will go down as one of the craziest and controversial postseason games ever.
During the 7th inning (where most of the craziness happened), Jose Bautista hit a 3 run homer to put the Blue Jays ahead.
After hitting the ball, Bautista flipped his bat. Some people had no problem with what Bautista did, however some people believed it was disrespectful.
Bautista wrote a great article detailing his thoughts about the bat flip.
Let me take you inside my head for a second. It’s Game 5 of the ALDS against Texas. Do or die. Tie game, seventh inning. Two men on. Two outs.
I was standing in the on-deck circle when we knocked in the tying run, and the crowd just exploded. Imagine standing there on the field and looking up at 50,000 people going crazy.
I wish you could have heard my thoughts in that moment. It’s the closest I have ever felt to being a superhero. I felt like I was Batman, and the villain had the girl dangling off the edge of the building. My adrenaline wasn’t 10-out-of-10. It was ten-million-out-of-10.
The stage was set.
All I was thinking in the moment was, This is your chance. Just relax. Get ready early. See it and hit it.
When you’re in that situation, you’re playing a role in a show. I’m not Jose Bautista. I’m the guy trying to be the superhero. I’m coming through. I’m going to make something happen.
There’s no sound in the world like the crack a baseball makes on the sweet spot of my maple Marucci. You blink on contact. The immediate roar of the crowd lifts your sights to see where the ball is going. Imagine the feeling of watching it land in the seats. How would you feel? What would you do?
There was no script. I didn’t plan it. It just happened.
I flipped my bat.
It wasn’t out of contempt for the pitcher. It wasn’t because I don’t respect the unwritten rules of the game. I was caught up in the emotion of the moment.
Some of the Rangers took exception to it, which I can understand. They were on the other side of that emotion. I’ve been there before. I know how it feels. I’ve been pissed off on a baseball field plenty of times. I’m no angel. Is it out of disrespect? Of course not. It’s because you’re upset and want to win so badly. That’s just part of the game.
After the game, some of the backlash from small sections of the media took on a familiar tone. I’ve heard this before.
“Disrespectful, mocking, showboating.”
One MLB Network analyst went as far as questioning my “character” and my “leadership.”
Nowadays, when a player flips his bat, especially a guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve, a small section of people always seem to turn it into a debate about the integrity of the game.
You’re kidding yourself if you think baseball isn’t a show. It’s a spectacle. It’s entertainment. If it wasn’t, then 11.5 million Canadians wouldn’t have tuned in to watch Game 5, and MLB’s TV contracts wouldn’t be worth what they’re worth.
Baseball is a metaphor for America. It’s a giant melting pot made up of people from all over the world and all walks of life. How can you expect everybody to be exactly the same? Act exactly the same? More importantly, why would you want them to?
Look at all the excitement around the 2015 playoffs. We live in a different time now. It’s not 1932 when Babe Ruth played (and called his shot). The entire world was following along with the drama on TV, social media, and the internet, and having a lot of fun with it. After I hit the home run against Texas, I got tens of thousands of people flooding my Twitter timeline. I got over 400 text messages. Over 200 e-mails. It was stupid. I’ve never seen so many message notifications on a phone before.
Someone sent me a video of a subway car in Toronto after the game. Everybody on the train was doing the olé soccer chant with my name. “Joséee, José, José Joséee!”
That felt amazing.
I also saw a video of a guy finishing his bowl of cereal and then flipping the spoon. Even the mayor of Toronto flipped a bat into a fountain. It turned into a social media frenzy.
But for whatever reason, there’s a small section of old-school, my-way-or-the-highway type of people who never want the game to evolve. They’re the dinosaurs who believe that everybody should play the same and act the same. They usually claim that it is out of “respect.”
I flipped my bat. I’m human. The emotion got to me. It’s in my DNA. If you think that makes me a jerk, that’s fine. But let’s call it what it is. Let’s not have these loaded conversations about “character” and the integrity of the game every time certain players show emotion in a big moment.