League Officials Deal Out Punishments, Subliminally Side With Rangers

By this point, everyone that follows baseball has watched Rougned Odor punch Jose Bautista in the face. They’ve probably watched it a few times, it’s pretty gnarly. Everyone knew suspensions were coming, even Odor said it himself the following day. When asked about the incident, Odor stated, “I know I’m going to be suspended for a couple of games”, adding that he had no regrets about what happened.

As reported by Ian Harrison at the Associated Press, 14 players in total were punished, with 6 receiving suspensions. Odor, as expected, was given the heftiest suspension at 8 games. His teammate Elvis Andrus was given a 1 game suspension as well. However on the Blue Jays side of things; Manager John Gibbons and pitcher Jesse Chavez were slapped with 3 game bans, while Jose Bautista and first base coach Tim Leiper were suspended for 1 game each.

In an inning where Jose Bautista was intentionally hit with a pitch, and soon after punched in the face: 2 Rangers are suspended, as opposed to 4 Blue Jays? Watch the whole video again if you need to, aftermath and all. Bautista didn’t throw a punch, nor did he make contact with Rougned Odor sliding into second. Officially, he was suspended for “his actions and postgame comments”.

What Bautista said is,

“It was pretty cowardly of them to wait until my last at-bat to do that in the whole series. They could have come out and done it, if they wanted to send a message. Again, it shows a little bit more of their colors.”

Apparently, those are suspension-worthy comments. Actually it was the combination of saying that and getting hit by a pitch, and punched in the face.

A 1 game suspension isn’t that bad though, and Bautista’s already appealed it, so what’s the big deal? What really stands out here isn’t the suspension given to Bautista, it’s everything else that was handed out. In addition to the suspensions to Bautista, Chavez, Gibbons and Leiper, Blue Jays Kevin Pillar and Josh Donaldson were both fined, as was Bench Coach Demarlo Hale.

On the Rangers’ side of things, Matt Bush, Sam Dyson, AJ Griffin, Robinson Chirinos, and bench coach Steve Buechele were hit with fines. Bush’s punishment seems like the odd one out here, as he was fined for throwing intentionally at Bautista. Fined, not suspended. In total, 7 Blue Jays were punished, and 7 Rangers were punished.

That doesn’t seem just, to me. I’m not a Blue Jays fan, nor am I a Rangers fan. I actually enjoy watching both teams, I’d say an equal amount. What I do see is a handful of punishments given out that imply both teams are equally at fault. Of course Odor was punished the most, he needed to be. Why Bautista was suspended? Technically it’s because of “actions and comments”, but the message being sent here is that Bautista had it coming, and the Rangers were justified in what they did.

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It sounds odd at first, I’m sure, but think about it. If Matt Bush was fined for hitting Bautista intentionally, why wasn’t Manager Jeff Banister also punished for being responsible, as Demarlo Hale of the Blue Jays was? This is according to the league, not me. They said Bush was fined for hitting Bautista on purpose, and that Demarlo Hale, the acting manager, was fined for Jesse Chavez, his pitcher, hitting Prince Fielder with a pitch following the brawl.

To me it just doesn’t make sense that Jesse Chavez would be suspended for 3 games, while Matt Bush is suspended for none, and Demarlo Hale was fined, while Jeff Banister was left alone.

“The rules are fair for punishment,” Banister said.

I would think so too, if my team instigated a brawl and was given a lesser punishment than the team we fought. I probably sound salty about this, but I swear I’m not. Maybe some Blue Jays fans are, but I’m really not. I just see a big picture being painted here. A picture that depicts Jose Bautista as an asshole who flips his bat at inappropriate times. I see the League Officials handing out suspensions and punishing Blue Jays players that stood up for their teammate, while giving the Rangers a slap on the wrist.

Odor had to be punished, there’s no getting around that. Had Bautista made contact with Odor on the slide into second, I would see much more justification for Bautista’s punishment. However that’s not the case. Bautista was hit by a pitch, then punched in the face by the team that he flipped his bat against 7 months ago. The message being sent by the league is that now, they’re even. Punishing both teams equally for this fight puts the blame evenly on each side, and that’s what just happened.

I interpret all of this as a way of the League Officials trying to dictate the do’s and don’ts of bat flips and unwritten rules. They didn’t let the players handle it. They let the Rangers get back at Jose Bautista for the bat flip, then they decided it was over. I thought the bat flipped around the world was pretty entertaining, but I know a lot of Rangers fans felt differently. Apparently, the League agrees with the Rangers on this one.

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