No matter what he does, José Bautista can’t stop pissing off his fellow Major League Baseball players. On Wednesday, as his Toronto Blue Jays faced off against the Atlanta Braves, Bautista hit a home run in the top of the 8th inning off of Braves reliever Eric O’Flaherty. As is his custom, Bautista celebrated the dinger by staring at it from home plate then flipping his bat aggressively before rounding the bases. This did not go over well with Atlanta:
After the game, O’Flaherty commented on the incident, mentioning that his anger arose from Bautista’s history of (what he believes is) showboating: “That’s something making the game tough to watch. It’s turned into look-at-me stuff. […] I’m just tired of it. I’ve seen it from him enough.” For his part, the Blue Jays slugger defended his actions by calling them spur of the moment, and that “sometimes our competitive juices come out in the wrong moment. We have to deal with it between the lines like men–I feel like I did that and hopefully that’s enough.”
Bautista’s display and Atlanta’s subsequent reaction plays into the continuing debate on the “right way” to play the game, one that is rooted in racial tensions and baseball’s long and tumultuous history. Whether Bautista was purposefully showing up the opponents or not–and it’s likely that he was just celebrating to try to fire up his team, as the Blue Jays were down 8-3 at the time–what’s sure is that any time a baseball player deviates from this nebulous idea of how to play the sport, the more traditionalist elements among both players and fans will chew them out for it.
This time around, the Braves did get the last laugh, as they shut out Toronto the rest of the way after Bautista’s home run, winning 8-4 and handing the Blue Jays their third straight loss.