Wed, May 18, 2016 - Page 18 News List

Players enforce own unwritten rules of on-field conduct


Hall of Famer Joe Morgan knows that for more than a century, baseball players have policed themselves.

Like it or not.

Seven months after Jose Bautista’s famous bat flip against Texas in the American League playoffs, he got hit by the Rangers and responded with a hard takeout slide that led to a brawl on Sunday.

“If you were willing to show the other team up and to do that, then you’ve got to be willing to take what goes with it,” Morgan said on Monday.

Major League Baseball was yesterday expected to issue discipline for the weekend fight, which led to six of the eight ejections in Toronto’s 7-6 loss.

It was the last meeting of the regular season between the teams, and Bautista was facing the Rangers for the final time when rookie Matt Bush opened the eighth inning with a 155kph fastball that hit the slugger on the left arm and ricocheted off a thigh.

Plate umpire Dan Iassogna warned both benches, and Justin Smoak bounced to third with one out. Bautista slid hard and late into the right leg of second baseman Rougned Odor and 8 feet past second base. Odor shoved Bautista with both hands, then threw a punch to his jaw that made Bautista’s head snap back, causing his sunglasses and helmet to fly off.

Dugouts and bullpens emptied.

Fans chanted “U-S-A! U-S-A!” and “Let’s Go Rangers” while also maligning the Blue Jays.

By the time the game resumed nine minutes later, Smoak was called out for an inning-ending double play, Bautista, Odor, Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson and Texas bench coach Steve Buechele were ejected.

Jesse Chavez hit Prince Fielder on the right thigh with the next pitch, causing the ejections of the reliever and another coach.

Tension stemmed from Oct. 14 last year, when Bautista hit a tiebreaking three-run homer against Sam Dyson in the seventh inning of Game Five of the American League Division Series, admired the ball for a couple seconds until it glanced off the front of the second deck in left and then flipped his bat dramatically.

After the home run trot, Edwin Encarnacion raised both arms — one holding a bat — in an effort to calm people in the crowd who were throwing objects on the field. Dyson took the gestures the wrong way, and dugouts and bullpens emptied as players gathers and shoved one another.

“The players set the tempo for that kind of stuff,” former manager Jim Leyland said. “So where do the players draw the line? Did Bautista go over the line? I don’t know.”

“I’ve seen black-and-white films, and I saw Babe Ruth rounding second base, taking his hat off, waving his hat to the crowd and everything. Well, was that offensive?” Leyland said. “So it’s not like this stuff just started.”

Texas did not retaliate until the seventh meeting between the teams this season.

“I thought it was pretty cowardly of them, too, to wait until my last at-bat to do that in the whole series,” Bautista said. “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.”

The brawl triggered debate throughout baseball.

“Odor also dropped his arm on that play to possible hit @JoeyBats19 in the face,” retired All-Star Torii Hunter said on Twitter.

“You know you’re taught to throw low to prevent a guy from coming in high,” Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander said on Twitter.

Hall of Fame pitcher Goose Gossage criticized Bautista during spring training for the flip.

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