Two weeks ago, Matt Bush hit Jose Bautista over a seven-month-old bat flip, a flip at a time Bush wasn’t in a Rangers uniform. That plunk drew mere warnings to both the Rangers and the Blue Jays, before Bautista tried to take Rougned Odor out of a double play and Odor shoved then punched Bautista to trigger a bench-clearing brawl.
Their 30th anniversary seems to be more sober than an awful lot of the team was. But Allen Barra is right. Three decades ago, the New York Mets steamrolled the National League on the regular season, then wrung their way through to a World Series triumph the hard way, against a pair of tough enough teams from Houston and Boston. There was and remains nothing wrong with that. There was nothing like a pair of hair-raising postseason sets to remind people that even teams as good as those Mets have to work, good and hard, for their prizes.
Shooting or brushing back the messenger is two things. One is bad form. The second is that, until or unless the message is demonstrably libelous or slanderous, it rarely works to the shooter’s advantage. It doesn’t keep people from trying. And it doesn’t keep those folks from looking foolish. (Donaldus Minimus, call your office. You too, Hilarious Rodent Clinton.)
If you’re my age, the first two words into your brain when you saw the pitch sail up and in and catch Ryan Vogelsong flush around the left cheek and eye Monday were Tony Conigliaro. Then, as Vogelsong was carted off the PNC Park field en route Allegheny General Hospital, you said a prayer that the Pirates’ righthander doesn’t face even one degree of what Tony C. faced.
It turns out that I was right in how I called at least two of the punishments handed down for the Texas-Toronto basebrawl game Sunday. Elsewhere, there were a few surprises.
Rougned Odor, whose roundhouse to Jose Bautista’s face exploded what Matt Bush’s drill of Bautista and Bautista’s hard but nowhere near dirty slide into Odor at second base merely ignited, got eight games and a $5,000 fine. Bautista got one game off. Thinking twice, he should have gotten none and Odor probably should have gotten more.
How do you follow up a game in which you nailed twenty strikeouts? If you’re Max Scherzer, who punched out twenty Tigers in a start last week, you go to New York, face Noah Syndergaard—the lightning Met who hits 100 on the radar gun with frightening regularity—and come up short despite matching Thor ten punchouts to ten punchouts.
It’s not that you pitched horribly against these Mets. It’s just that you threw two pitches you shouldn’t have. Two pitches that flew out faster than you threw them. And on a night Syndergaard was Thor to the tenth power, and the Mets bullpen didn’t have an arsonist among them, that isn’t enough.
The Atlanta Braves have thrown out the first manager of the season. Apparently, their patience expired with an 8-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates Monday night, sending the Braves to a 9-28 record. Since the rebuilding Braves didn’t seem to expect to be that bad over most of the first third of the season, Fredi Gonzalez finally had a date with the guillotine.
What a difference five years makes.
So who’s going to get what as a result of 25 Rangers and one riot Sunday? That’s only the number one question around the game before today’s activities begin. There are obvious prospects and a few vague ones alike. If you were Joe Garagiola, Jr., baseball government’s enforcer, as it were, how would you rule? Herewith my call:
That was then: The Texas Rangers (the law enforcement outfit, that is) lived by the motto, “One riot, one Ranger.” The motto was fashioned by a Ranger captain, William McDonald, when he was sent to Dallas in 1896 to stop (wait for it) a prize fight.
This is now: The Texas Rangers (the baseball team, that is) lived Sunday by the apparent motto, “25 Rangers, one riot.” In their final game of a series and the season against the Toronto Blue Jays. All on behalf of avenging . . . a bat flip in last fall’s postseason.
This season has not lacked for plain fun. See Max Scherzer’s 20-strikeout jewel. Trevor Story’s explosive season opening, Jake Arrieta’s second no-hitter. Bryce Harper’s continuing excellence and “Make Baseball Fun Again” campaign. The you-thought-we-were-kidding-last-year dominance of the Chicago Cubs. (You’re not seeing things, even when you saw the Cubs destroy the Reds 16-0 while Arrieta worked his wonder.)