An Open Letter to Jose Bautista
Dear Jose Bautista,
Congratulations. No one has ever sullied a glorious moment faster than you did yesterday. You hurled that bat in the clincher over Texas as if someone had smeared it with pig waste, and then stared at Sam Dyson as if he was the one who did it.
Oh, that was a monumental home run all right. A laser beam in a pressure situation that won the game and sent your team into the American League Championship Series. It was hard to admire though, because your childishness immediately drew our attention from it to you. Some commentators have already opined that such actions will get fans excited about the game. If the home run that you hit isn’t exciting enough, then the game is dead. And calling it a “bat flip” is like calling your home run a lazy fly that barely carried out.
Jose, you can spare us that “just a moment” nonsense, and that it was an emotional moment. We know that you can control your emotions far better than that because if you couldn’t, you would never have been able to hit that pitch so far and so well.
How do you think Dyson felt about giving up that home run? Probably the same way you did the 3,521 times you didn’t reach base in your career, although it is doubtful any were as big a failure as Dyson’s moment yesterday. Oh, you’ve had your failures though, Jose, just like everyone from Mario Mendoza to Ty Cobb and you know, as we all do, that an inch higher or lower on your bat and that home run would have been a weak fly ball and the third out. Maybe half an inch.
That’s exactly the problem, though, Jose. With that glare and that bat heave, you weren’t celebrating your home run, you were wallowing in Dyson’s failure. I’m an old guy, but I try to avoid the “old days were better syndrome.” If guys want to perform a hand shake routine that’s more elaborate than John Travolta’s hand jive dance-scene in Grease, well, fine. The game is supposed to be fun. And if guys want to wear their hats sideways and their pants low, it doesn’t hurt me any, although I confess it bugs me. And I’m glad that Dyson didn’t put one in Edwin Encarnacion’s ear just because you hit a home run. That never made any sense, and just because Bob Gibson did it, doesn’t make it right. He didn’t act emotionally “in the moment.” But celebrating someone else’s failure, crosses a line, the line that represents respect for your fellow competitor. Now you turn Major League Baseball into the NFL, which is busy turning itself into the WWE. That’s not an old days versus new days deal. That is being an ass, whether it’s 2015 or 1915.
Sam Dyson was not your enemy, Jose. This isn’t war. Maybe the DiMaggios and Berras and Greenbergs and Fellers never acted this way because they had actually been in the real thing. Perhaps you should practice your perspective and not your bat heaves this off-season.
Baseball, as every player and fan knows, is a game of failure. You know that, Jose. You had a bright and shining moment of success in a historic setting yesterday, but you sullied it, you ruined it by your childish antics. How will you feel if Wade Davis comes on to strike you out in the eighth inning of the seventh game with the Blue Jays down by a run to maintain a Royal’s lead, and he glares at you and throws his glove fifty feet towards the dugout? You would deserve that, but here’s hoping he simply walks off the mound. After all, getting you out is what he’s supposed to do.
Tell you what, Jose; when you bat 1.000, then you can glare and slam bats to your heart’s content. Until then drop the bat, run the bases, and understand that if that pitch had moved another inch you’d be just another out. Your antics after that home run don’t make you a man, Jose, it makes you a brat, and all the talent in the world can’t overcome that. Not that you care what I think, but I am rooting for the depth of your character to match the breadth of your talent.