Words cannot describe the feeling that I had when I saw the baseball leave the bat of Toronto Blue Jays Right Fielder, Jose Bautista yesterday afternoon in front of a packed Rogers Centre to give the Jays a 6-3 lead in the 5th and deciding game of the American League Divisional Series.
Like so many times before, Bautista (aka Joey Bats) came through when the game was on the line and he hit one of the most historic home runs in the history of Toronto Sports, right up there with the World Series winning home run belted by Joe Carter.
What made this home run even that much more meaningful was the reaction that Jose had after the ball left his bat, when he knew it was going to take a tense 3-3 game and open it wide up.
Jose is the kind of player that Toronto sports fans love, and embrace because he’s a wonderful role model, he’s a bright guy and he cares. He plays with passion and he never takes a play off. Playing all season with an injured shoulder and with tons of attention on Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, Bautista continued to be the real MVP on the team in the clubhouse.
For quite a few months this season, Bautista refused to do one-on-one interviews with Rogers Sportsnet in protest of the broadcaster’s refusal to pay the cost of a designer suit purchased by Jays rookie Devon Travis for a TV segment aired on Sportsnet on May 19th.
And now, the Bat Flip from Hell, showcases Jose, and the City of Toronto – plus the rest of Canada – and the passion and intensity we have for the Blue Jays and the game of baseball. I’m positive it turned many a head, and while poor Sam Dyson and the state of Texas may be upset with the act, they need to understand the reaction was not intended to show up the Rangers, the pitcher, or MLB, but it was a reaction from a player who cares, who is passionate and who has played with the Blue Jays in the lean times and wants to enjoy the good times.
As former Blue Jays pitcher Todd Stottlemyre said yesterday afternoon on the Fan590, being a member of the Toronto Blue Jays changes you. You feel Canadian, and you understand that the Blue Jays might play in Toronto, but they really are Canada’s team.
Heck, two of my three children are away at camp with their school and their teacher posted a clip on his Twitter feed of the bedlam that ensued after that home run.
It was an incredible day to be a sports fan! Even better to be a baseball fan. But a day like this comes by far too infrequently when history is made, and a defining moment plays out right before your eyes. Jose Bautista’s home run and subsequent bat flip was witnessed by so many people in Canada and North America, and will be engrained in our memories forever.
Go Jays Go.
Here is the Bat Flip from Hell:
(I warned my ball hockey team that if I scored the winning goal at our game later that evening I was going to “bat flip” my hockey stick… I didn’t score, thankfully for everyone).