Yes Jose Bautista, You Can Still Flip That Bat


As if he really needed to explain himself, Jose Bautista did anyway in the Players Tribunal with an article he released yesterday.

The moment in question was the now legendary bat flip Jose Bautista committed during Game 5 of the American League Divisional Series last month, and what was going through his mind when he did it.

Bautista wrote, “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. Then I took that lonely walk to the plate with everything on the line.”

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Bautista went on to describe the likelihood of being in that moment, which is to say, nearly impossible to happen.

He also spoke of the moment as equivalent to being a superhero.

Make no mistake, the second Bautista turned on that pitch, he became ‘Captain Canada’ to 35 million people immediately.

Bautista didn’t just stop at describing the home run itself, he went on to defend the bat flip, saying, “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.”

To be honest, if what Bautista had done had taken place at the end of the game, as a walk off, it is unlikely he would have caught the flack that he did.

Unfortunately for him, he didn’t, and as such, faced major criticism from both the American media, and even some of Toronto’s media personalities.

Because of this, Bautista felt it necessary to describe his upbringing and baseball culture in the Dominican Republic to help better explain why he did what he did:

Oct 14, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista hits a three-run home run against the Texas Rangers in the 7th inning in game five of the ALDS at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

“The reality is that these guys came up playing baseball in an entirely different atmosphere. Come down to the Dominican Republic and experience it yourself. We’re loud. We’re emotional. We’re always singing and dancing. We love to laugh and have a good time. It’s ingrained in our DNA. And it doesn’t change when we’re playing baseball. To us, baseball isn’t a country club game. It’s our national pastime, and it comes packed with emotion.

I played winter ball in the Dominican the first nine years of my pro career. When you get a hit, people in the crowd will start playing trumpets and horns and the cheerleaders will jump up on top of the dugout and start dancing. The fans stand up from the first inning to the ninth inning, and half the time they’re dancing, too. That’s part of the experience. When you hit a home run in this atmosphere, you might flip your bat. You might pump your fist running around the bases. You might even point to the sky when you step on the plate (I see you, Big Papi). For the most part, pitchers don’t have a problem with it. They know they’re entitled to enjoy the moment when the script is flipped.”

It really is a shame that so many people took such offense to the flip in that given moment. To be honest, it doesn’t matter where you are from, I think A LOT of people in the majors would have done that flip.

Bautista has always had a hot-headed reputation, so it is understandable he got the backlash that he did.

But the fact that in this day and age, that baseball players are being held to such a degree and expected to act like such robots, it’s simply bad business for the game.

Baseball is a sport I know inside and out and it is a sport that I have loved my entire life, it has taken me across the world and I truly appreciate the game for giving me that chance.

But unfortunately, at almost every high level of the game I have come across as a player, the prevailing attitude is one that absolutely suffocates individualism.

In a time when football and basketball players get their best celebrations applauded, vined, watched and re-watched again on YouTube, baseball has become the archaic “uncool” sport, that rarely gets the same love on social media that the other big four worldly sports enjoy.

Even in hockey, a sport rife with some of the most conservative, small town Canadian value types of players, is a sport that is absolutely gushing with individual highlights and celebrations that are loudly applauded throughout the sports world.

How is it that baseball, arguably the most individual sport of all the team sports, are left out of the individual celebrations by its own accord?

Whatever happened to the likes of “calling the shot” like Babe Ruth did back when baseball was king in America?

Not even just the celebrations, though.

In baseball, you can be judged by scouts for just how you talk and walk. No literally, they will cut you for that type of stuff.

Where in most sports they actually judge you by playing before coming to a final conclusion, I have come across a very few, but very loud group of scouts within the game that wreak of tone deafness.

You like to wear glasses other than Oakley’s? That’s bush league your cut.

Like to fiddle with the ball just a little too much on the mound before you step on the rubber? Cut.

Take too long warming up in the bullpen? C-U-T.

I literally have had teammates and managers accuse me of “showing up the coach” because, in their mind, I wasn’t getting warmed up quick enough in the bullpen.

At the time, I was returning from a sever shoulder strain and merely wanted to ease my arm into a full delivery, unless I wanted to reinjure it and, you guessed it, get cut.

Oct 14, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) reacts after hitting a three-run home run against the Texas Rangers in the 7th inning in game five of the ALDS at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not saying baseball is full of nothing but pushy people with sticks up their rear end, but the fact that in a sport where almost no professional club has team warm ups, yet all of a sudden you can have your character brought into question for just that, how you warm up, is a problem that can cause serious growth issues for this sport heading into the 21st century.

In other words, there are a small group of imbeciles that abuse the use of “the code” to push their own idiotic philosophies throughout the game on a number of levels.

It’s ego, it’s arrogance, but scariest, it turns off droves of young minds towards the game.

I’m happy Jose flipped that bat, just like I was not bothered too greatly by those comments from coaches and players, we all see things differently, how to “properly” play the game.

As I spoke on in an earlier article, baseball has so many different cultures and countries playing it, that determining one single “right way” is about as useful as determining there is one single right way to live your life, or how to run a country, or how to push your drunken friend down a hill in a wheelbarrow.

There are just too many different ways, both successfully and unsuccessfully, to do all of those things.

What I take from all of those bat flipping naysayers, is that in the big leagues, more specifically in America, you just don’t do that.

You play the game as a robot would to the very end, when you are finally allowed to celebrate your teams victory with an orderly line of slapping the hands.

Unless it’s a walk off, then you can mob the field, no matter what time of year or type of game it is.

Oh, and pitchers are also allowed to do a big fist pump after getting an out, even though, you know, he successfully does that 75 percent of the time anyway.

Oh, and you can also run, slide, and attempt to break the ankles of the second basemen or shortstops, even though you could have been called out a solid five steps sooner before the bag.

But my god if that second baseman shows emotion and claims you tried to take him out, those are fighting words! He just attacked your character! Why can’t he be a good ol’ American boy and take his chop block like a man?!

I don’t know, baseball is a funny game.

I really shouldn’t talk though, I mean, I come from a country with two sports that allows players to remove their gloves, and beat the ever-loving crap out of each other, while the referees stand and watch as the fans turn into spectators you would have been more likely to see at the Roman Colosseum, some 2,000 years ago.

There are no right or wrong ways to play these sports. They just evolve into something else after time.

I’m just happy I got to watch Jose flip that damn bat.