Rougned Odor of the Texas Rangers is central to a controversy in Major League Baseball. On Sunday, he punched Toronto Blue Jays player Jose Bautista square in the jaw after the Jay slid aggressively into second base. A suspension appears to be imminent for Odor, but the length of it is not yet known.
In context, Bautista slid into second base aggressively, perhaps targeting Odor, after getting beaned earlier in the inning. Bautista is on the record stating that the slide was a reference to the beanball:
Bautista:"I had a hard slide at 2B. I could have injured him, I chose not to…tried to send a message that I didn't appreciate getting hit"
— Gregor Chisholm (@gregorMLB) May 15, 2016
“I had a hard slide at 2B. I could have injured him; I chose not to…tried to send a message that I didn’t appreciate getting hit.”
The beanball itself needs to be put into context, though. Last season the Blue Jays eliminated the Rangers from the playoffs. A memorable image from that series was Jose Bautista’s bat flip after he launched a three-run home run to left field to give the Blue Jays a comfortable lead in the deciding game of their divisional series.
Twitterverse is alive and well when it comes to debating what punishment, if any, should be handed down to Odor for the punch. Many are also pointing out, with video links or pictorials, that the Texas Ranger isn’t exactly the cleanest player when it comes to his own aggressive slides into second base.
One Twitter user showed what appeared to be archived Fox video of Odor and what appears to be an aggressive slide into second base aimed directly at the shin of a middle infielder of the Anaheim Angels. Another Twitter user posted a compilation of images showing a trio of other seemingly-aggressive slides and the slide against the Angels as well.
When we look at it all in context, then Bautista’s bat flip in the playoffs last season was the affront that started it all. The beanball could be taken as a balance to that, although I’m not in favor of that kind of retaliation.
Maybe Bautista could have left it at that but based on how Odor has played in the past (i.e.,. dirty) from that point of view Bautista’s spikes-down slide into second base can’t really be taken as an additional affront. Odor has set worse precedents for how baseball is played at the Major League level.
Rougned claimed that he did not regret his actions in a lockerroom interview, something that can’t work well in his favor as his suspension is deliberated. He also claimed to “know” that he was “going to be suspended for a couple of games” but there are many that are expecting much more than two. News of the suspension from Joe Torre is expected sometime Tuesday.