Beyond the impact for the Blue Jays, Bautista’s home run has helped change the MLB culture


Jose Bautista will be on the front page of the Blue Jays Watch Party on Friday evening to relive the fifth game of the ALDS 2015 against the Texas Rangers. Join Bautista, welcome Hazel Mae, Arash Madani and Shi Davidi, and other special guests at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT.

Any home run in an elimination match is likely to be quite memorable. If the big swing hits home, in front of 49,742 enduring fans, in the middle of an emotionally charged round, you can be sure no one will forget it.

By the time Jose Bautista had completed a circuit in Game 7 of the 2015 American Division Series 5, he had earned a place in the Blue Jays playoffs. The ensuing emphatic bat knockdown made the moment unforgettable for everyone.

The stadium literally trembled in the moments after Bautista’s homerun, and the Blue Jays broke out of the home canoe as if their teammate had just left the visiting Rangers. As Ryan Goins said about the flip later in the evening, “On a 1-10 it’s a 27. Incredible. “

But even if the importance of home run was immediately obvious to Blue Jays players and fans, it was not yet clear that Bautista’s flipping would become the focal point of a much broader discussion of baseball. .

Now that almost five years have passed, it’s clear that Bautista’s display of emotion has helped push baseball out of the dark ages into a smoother version of the game in which the player’s personality is something to embrace, not to hide. In this sense, his home run represented a turning point not only for the history of the Blue Jays but for the culture of baseball as a whole.

Of course, that’s not how the Texas Rangers saw it back then.

“Jose needs to calm this down,” said reliever Sam Dyson, who authorized the home run. “Respect the game a little more.”

Other Ranger club members have suggested that Bautista broke the unwritten rules of baseball by knocking down his bat – playoff game or not.

“You want to be able to play the game the right way,” said starter Cole Hamels. “You have a lot of children watching. You just want to be a ball player, and I think there is some respect that you should have. “

“My point of view on this is that we are playing the game the right way, hard, with the 27 outs,” added manager Jeff Banister. “We respect everyone. “

(Well, almost everyone. The Rangers would throw Bautista the following May in their last attack in the series. Chaos ensued when Bautista slipped into second base and Rougned Odor hit him.)

Ben Nicholson-Smith is the Sportsnet baseball editor. Arden Zwelling is a senior writer. Together, they bring you the most in-depth Blue Jays podcast in the league, covering all the latest news with opinions and analysis, as well as interviews with other insiders and team members.

The Rangers weren’t the only ones injured by Bautista’s overturning bat. Baseball traditionalists bristled with emotion on the field and Bautista’s reaction became a topic of discussion throughout the league. The following spring, Hall of Fame reliever Goose Gossage expressed personal disapproval in a conversation with ESPN.

“Bautista is an (expletive) shame for the game,” said Gossage. “Throw his bat and act like an idiot, like all these guys from Toronto.”

Although Gossage’s comments were sensational, they did not reflect the thoughts of the younger generation of the game. Bryce Harper, then the reigning NL MVP, told ESPN that he would like to see baseball embrace the personality of its members. young stars like the NBA and the NFL.

“Baseball is tired,” said Harper. “It’s a tired sport, because you can’t express yourself. You can’t do what other sports do. “

“If a guy blows my fist on the mound, I’ll say,” Yeah, you got me. Good for you. I hope I have you next time, “he added.” That’s what makes the game fun. “

The day after Gossage’s arrival at Bautista, Blue Jays star Marcus Stroman met the media while wearing a “Joey Flippin Bats” t-shirt. Like Harper, he urged the MLB to embrace the personality of its biggest stars and allow them to express themselves on and off the pitch.

“We have a young wave of guys in the big leagues and the game is getting really exciting,” he said. ” It’s funny. “

“Not everyone is the same,” said Stroman. “Not everyone is a cookie cutter. People do their business differently. Some guys are emotional. Some are not, but it’s not a bad thing if the guys are emotional. If they show a little emotion that is not bad. work, so we’re allowed to show emotion on the pitch. “

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Four years later, this point of view hardly seems controversial. Following comments from players like Harper and Stroman, MLB has wisely started marketing its young stars more than ever. Soon, the league launched its “Let the kids play” promotional campaign. Now the likes of Ronald Acuna Jr., Juan Soto and Francisco Lindor are encouraged to show their personalities instead of cutting them off in the name of “respect” for the game.

At one point, this change happened regardless of what had happened in Game 5 of ALDS 2015. But Bautista’s home run is without doubt the defining moment of the entire 2015 season for several reasons. From a Blue Jays perspective, he set up the franchise’s first playoff victory in 22 years. It was instantly obvious to anyone watching.

And in the months and years that followed, Bautista’s home run had repercussions in the league, sparking a long-awaited conversation about the personality and emotion that ultimately advanced the traditionalist culture of baseball.


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