By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — It’s as storied a tradition in Major League Baseball as curtain calls big after home runs. One thrown punch, or even just one dirty look, and both teams take part in the great group exercise known as the bench-clearing brawl. Most attempted punches in the history of baseball brawls, however, only hit air.
Not for Rougned Odor. The Texas Rangers second baseman could be facing a stiff penalty from Major League Baseball after slugging Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista directly in the chin Sunday afternoon, in easily one of the biggest haymakers ever delivered on a baseball field.
After the Rangers plunked Bautista in his final at-bat of the day, Odor appeared to take exception to what was a hard but clean slide by Bautista into second base. Fred Toucher hypothesized on Toucher & Rich that Odor meant for his errant throw to first base to nail Bautista right in the face, which would have really landed him in trouble (and justifiably so), and perhaps seriously injured the Blue Jays’ All-Star right fielder. Instead, he landed a clean haymaker flush to Bautista’s jaw, which is certainly not made of glass.
Not sure what was more shocking, the brute force and pinpoint connection of fist-to-chin, or Bautista’s ability to absorb the blow and stay upright in the brawl, which continued after the Blue Jays retaliated by hitting Prince Fielder with a pitch in the following inning.
Clearly, lots of bad blood remains between the Rangers and Blue Jays after last season’s memorable ALDS Game 5 in Toronto, defined by Bautista’s clutch home run and the bat flip heard ’round the world. There’s no way Odor unleashed such a vicious right hand over Bautista’s slide.
There’s a precedent to such egregious attacks: former Chicago Cubs catcher Michael Barrett served a 10-game suspension in 2006 after punching Carlos Zambrano – his own teammate – in the Cubs dugout. Could Odor face an even heftier penalty, considering he actually has a track record of throwing fists at opponents’ faces?
Whatever happens moving forward, this brawl was one for the books in baseball’s storied history of empty dugouts and broken tempers. Twitter certainly took notice and meme-ified the moment…here are some of the best reactions.
LATE ADDITION: This tremendous editing job with Odor and “King Hippo” from Punch-Out!
What’d you think of the brawl? What should be done with Odor and Bautista?
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at email@example.com.