Maybe it's just me, but I've seen the Rangers win a fight. I'm ready to see them win a World Series.
10. First of all, there’s no doubt that Joey Bautista is annoying with his exaggerated, self-aggrandizing celebrations. Not a lot of tears shed by MLB players over him getting punched. And after his hard slide he definitely squared off with Rougned Odor, so let’s squelch this inane talk of it being a “sucker punch.”
9. Odor’s right cross was as clean a punch as you will see land in sports, and better than anything you’ll ever see at WWE’s Wrestlemania. That said, Rangers fans who are gloating “from bat flip to fat lip!” or “Boom! Bautista got KO'd!” are just, well, wrong. Bautista’s shades went flying and he was knocked back, but he was far from knocked out. And in the post-game clubhouse he wasn’t sporting a fat lip, black eye or, actually, any physical sign at all of being hit in the face. The punch’s bark was obviously worse than its bite. And, honestly, how tough can you really be with your gold chain swinging in the air while your 2nd punch is a left-handed slap – with a glove? Giggle. Baseball is so cute when it tries to be macho.
8. Sunday at Globe Life Park was USA Baseball’s “Play Ball” initiative aimed at encouraging children to enjoy our national pastime. So … well done, role models! Teaching kids to resort to fighting is such a swell life lesson.
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7. While Bautista was accountable in explaining his version of the brawl, I was very disappointed that Odor didn’t talk to the media after the game. Tough guys might throw punches, but they also shouldn’t run from their responsibilities.
6. The “USA! USA!” chant at the Ballpark was a good attempt at being clever and all. But, um, fans do realize that their hero (Odor) is from Venezuela and their villain (Bautista) from the Dominican Republic. Surely they don’t think all the Blue Jays are Canadian and all the Rangers American. Right?
5. Let me guess, the misguided, “macho” Rangers fan that still cherishes Nolan Ryan’s headlock of Robin Ventura is now ready to erect a statue of Odor? C’mon, championship teams don’t hold senseless grudges for seven months. And isn’t it a little embarrassing that now two of the franchise’s top 10 moments include not winning games, but winning fights? But if you can’t celebrate a World Series championship, you obviously get all giddy over fireworks and fisticuffs. Folks who are celebrating the brawl as a highlight of the Rangers’ season are the same folks who think they get cut off in traffic and speed up to exact revenge by cutting off the same driver. It’s just silly. And shallow. You can have your punches in May. Give me punchouts come October. Remember, this whole thing started in Game 5 in Toronto when the Rangers choked. Because they couldn’t catch a ball then, they were forced to show some balls now.
4. Odor will be suspended at least five games because he wasn’t mature enough or smart enough to think of a better resolution than throwing a punch. Neanderthal problem-solving at its best. Several MLB players have also pointed out that Odor went uncharacteristically submarine on the relay throw to 1st in an attempt to hit the sliding Bautista in the face. That wouldn’t surprise us, right? But his fiery response to Bautista’s hard slide sure should. It was Odor, after all, that spiked the Angels’ Johnny Giavoletta in an even harder, dirtier slide last October. Remember?
3. I played baseball from the time I was 5 through high school, but I still don’t get the sport’s sacred, silly “unwritten rules.” Don’t dare disrespect the game – with, say, a harmless bat flip – or else be subjected to violent, physical retaliation. Again, bat flips are wrong. But hard slides, low throws and intentionally hurling a 97mph fastball at body parts are right. Sorry, that just doesn’t make sense.
2. The Rangers are trying win the AL West, not the Old West. And they’re in 1st place, not the 1st grade. Why then, were they seemingly willing to lose a game in order to send a message? After taking the lead on Ian Desmond’s bat-flip homer in the 7th, they started the 8th with Matt Bush hitting Bautista. He became the tying run, with power-hitting Edwin Encarnacion to the plate. That’s just irrational. And horrible baseball strategy. Divisions – playoff berths – have been decided by one game. The style-over-substance message that “we don’t take no bat flips!” was really that important? Preposterous. Last time I checked they didn’t hand out trophies or throw parades for the toughest teams. Only the best teams.
1. Seinfeld was right. As sports fans, we merely cheer laundry. We cheered Josh Hamilton as a Ranger, then booed him as an Angel, and now cheer him again as a Ranger. And, let’s face it, as a Ranger, Odor is a “Don’t Mess With Texas!”, feisty, passionate, badass hero. But he slides illegally hard. He instigates fights. He throws punches. He at times acts like a thug. But he’s our thug, so we love and embrace him. On another team, though, we’d portray him as a dirty, despicable villain who we’d – well – liked to see punched right in the face.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.