The home run that punched the Blue Jays' ticket the American League Championship Series last season earned Jose Bautista a punch in the face on Sunday in Arlington.
Minutes after being hit by a pitch from Rangers' reliever Matt Bush, Bautista slid hard into second base, setting off a fracas that led to a dust up with Texas Rangers' infielder Rougned Odor, who landed a solid right hand to Bautista's jaw before both benches cleared in an eventual 7-6 Rangers win.
It was a retaliation seven months in the making – a delayed reaction to Bautista's mammoth bat flip in Game 5 of the 2015 American League Championship Series. In case you don't remember:
The Rangers were mum on the subject during post game interviews. Odor wasn't made available to media, and Bush, who plunked Bautista in his eight-inning at-bat, declined to say if he threw at the Dominican slugger on purpose.
Bautista, who was among a handful of players and coaches ejected from the game, didn't shy away from commenting.
"I was pretty surprised. I mean, obviously, that's the only reason that he got me and he got me pretty good, so I have to give him that. It takes a little bit bigger man to knock me down."
Toronto right-hander Marcus Stroman, who wasn't at the field because he was attending his graduation from Duke University, had this to say:
Zero respect for Odor. Never had respect for him, never will.— Marcus Stroman (@MStrooo6) May 15, 2016
After the field was finally cleared, Blue Jays reliever Jesse Chavez hit Prince Fielder with the next pitch when the game resumed. He was ejected automatically because of the warning issued after Bush hit Bautista.
Baseball players both active and retired were quick to jump in on the conversation.
Played w/Odor, spoken with Joey Bats plenty, this had more to do with the bat flip last year than the slide. Joey Bats is not in the wrong.— Elliot Johnson (@ElliotJohnson9) May 16, 2016
was Bautista winding up to tickle him? https://t.co/4QxFbxqM3n— Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) May 15, 2016
Brawls in baseball are nothing new, as former major league pitcher Mark Mulder reminded us.
Odor might have just topped Nolan Ryan. Well maybe.— Mark Mulder (@markmulder20) May 15, 2016
While the latest melee is all the buzz right now, where it will rank in Blue Jays' history remains to be seen. For comparison's sake, watch George Bell's flying kick while charging the mound in 1985. (The video can be viewed at the 0:19 mark.)
The Jays and Rangers aren't scheduled to play again this year in the regular season. So fans will be forced to wait for the next chapter in this budding rivalry, unless of course they meet in the post season. A match-up that would surely excite fans on both sides.