From the Raptors beating the Heat in Game 7 to the Blue Jays brawling with the Rangers, Sunday was a busy day for Toronto sports fans. Which means they’ll have a lot to talk about Monday.
There’s no telling which topic will garner more attention.
“That’s a tough one,” Sportsnet 590 The Fan morning host Dean Blundell said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I’m going to say it’s probably going to be Jose and the punch because there’s so many layers (to it). The Raptors won, it’s great, we’re happy, we’re relieved, we’re in the Eastern Conference Final – we’re obviously going to pay a lot of attention to that. But the punch, come on, how great was that? That was seven, eight months of frustration coming out.”
Bautista, who infamously flipped his bat following a series-deciding homer in the 2015 ALDS against Texas, was at the center of another controversy this past weekend. After sliding hard into second base, Bautista got into a fistfight with Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor, sparking a benches-clearing brawl in the process. Bautista, who reached base after getting hit by a pitch from Matt Bush and was trying to break up a double play, took a hard right from Odor, who knocked off Bautista’s helmet and sunglasses with one punch.
“You get that video in slow mo, and it sure looks like Rougned Odor tries to throw the ball into Jose Bautista’s face and has no intention of throwing the ball to first to begin with,” Blundell said. “It’s going to be a fun morning either way, but man oh man, was that not just classic baseball culture?”
After the game, Bautista said he was “surprised” by what transpired. He admitted he slid hard into second to convey that he didn’t appreciate getting hit by a pitch, but he also felt that the Rangers acted “cowardly” and that it’s clear the organization has an “apparent lack of leadership.”
Bautista, though, played at least some part in the melee that unfolded.
“We love him, but we know some people don’t,” Blundell said. “It’s kind of a double-edged sword. Jose is an intense, intense dude. He’s loved for what he’s done here. He’s loved for his time and his service. I think the contract demands to start the season – are they demands when you don’t negotiate? We’re not sure. But for him to tell everybody what he’s worth and that he’s not negotiating but he really wants to come back, I think that soured a lot of people on him. At the same time, did he have it coming? I’m not a believer in those old culture rules of baseball. I tend to think that Bryce Harper should lead the charge and I think we should all get behind him and bat-flipping is okay. Ian Desmond flipped his bat with that three-run shot yesterday as well, but I didn’t see anybody throwing at him – although it would have made for great theater.”