The seventh inning of Game Five of the Rangers-Blue Jays ALDS was a difficult time for us all. Some of us were enthralled, some of us were infuriated, and some of us were in the shower, crying and blubbering wordless, incoherent noises.
The Rangers scored on a play that made use of a rule from ancient baseball texts, from a time when the rules were the opposite of unwritten and conveyed mostly through hieroglyphics. Whatever they said indicated it was totally legal for Rougned Odor to score from third after Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin's return throw to pitcher Aaron Sanchez hit Shin Soo Choo's bat. Texas took a 3-2 lead and the bottom of the inning arrived at the Rogers Centre with the home crowd bummed.
Then, of course, the Rangers utterly imploded with three straight errors, scored, and eventually, Jose Bautista hit a three-run monster home run that gave Toronto the lead, the win, and the series. Naturally, the crowd went nuclear, and Twitter soon followed, as replays of Bautista's bat flip filled the internet.
It was a truly a colossal giga-flip, and somehow, entirely warranted. The safety of a piece of equipment hasn't been so disregarded since that Gatorade cooler bet Sean Rodriguez he couldn't take it down with a single punch. Only the most dead-inside of those watching could behave as if Bautista's bat flip was somehow more offensive to the Rangers than the three-run lead that caused it.
Except some people.
Cole Hamels: "It's hard to be politically correct. It's tough to see. A lot of us on our team don't carry ourselves that way."— Jeff Wilson (@JeffWilson_FWST) October 15, 2015
We've spent a large portion of this post season defending Chase Utley; that slide wasn't cool, but MLB's decision to make Utley the scapegoat for decades of vicious takeout slides was also dumb. Whatever; no internet argument is going to heal the bones in poor Ruben Tejada's leg. It was a crappy situation all-around, but obviously we'll instinctively look for a way to skew the blame Utley is, to an extent, rightfully receiving.
So to have to turn around and defend Hamels as well feels like such a chore. He doesn't need defense, anyway; he needs a drink and the location of his golf clubs. Besides, I like bat flips. You like bat flips. Only the most decrepit, hunched-over baseball grouches call out bat flips. And Bautista's was the best bat flip of a generation. Babies will be born because of that bat flip.
Buuuttt, in Hamels' defense - which he doesn't need, remember - he was on the receiving side of it, and when talking about it, his team had just lost an elimination game in a close series. Not that he'll develop a begrudging respect for that particular bat flip as time goes on, but it makes perfect sense that it was not as positive an experience for him as it was for tens of thousands of screaming Blue Jays fans. Although I do have to wonder what the hell he meant by "politically correct," but whatever.
He was probably screaming on the inside - his infield had just turned into wet paper for no reason, if you'll recall - but he didn't explode when prompted. Besides, this is not really a surprise; who wouldn't expect a shaggy-haired Californian to prefer the "old school" way things are done?
Hamels and Jake Diekman are out now, leaving only Ben Revere and the Blue Jays as well as Utley and Jimmy Rollins' Dodgers gunning for a title. Who knows what hotly contested thing any of them will do?