The final game of the season between Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays turned into a teamwide scuffle on Sunday in Arlington, Texas, after two of the players got into a fistfight.
The fight started after the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista slid towards Rangers’ second baseman Rougned Odor during the eighth inning to break up a double play. Odor took offense and reciprocated by delivering a mean right hook to Bautista’s face.
It just took a moment for players of both teams to rush to their respective teammates and turn the squabble into a massive, bench-clearing brawl on baseball diamond.
“I was pretty surprised,” Bautista said in an interview following the game. “I mean, obviously, that's the only reason that he got me and he got me pretty good, so I have to give him that. It takes a little bit bigger man to knock me down.”
Here’s a slow-motion clip of the punch:
“It was ugly and unfortunate,” said Blue Jays skipper John Gibbons. “To me, it was gutless. The other 29 teams, they come at you right away, but to wait until the end, it just sort of tells you something. Everybody is going to say, ‘Oh, it was a one-run game. The ball got away.’ That ain't going to fly.”
It took 10 minutes to break up the fight and resume the game. Bautista and Odor, along with Toronto’s Josh Donaldson and Texas bench coach Steve Buechele, were ejected from the game, according to the Associated Press.
Ultimately, the Rangers won 7-6.
“I think it was just two hard-nosed baseball teams that play the game hard,” explained Texas manager Jeff Banister. “They like their club. We like our club. I take offense to everybody that thinks this is a game that shouldn't be played hard, that it shouldn't be played with emotion and intensity.”
The bad blood between the two teams dates back to Bautista’s exuberant bat flip in 2015 AL division series, where he hit a three-run homer in a winner-take-all game and reacted by flipping his bat high in the air. Scores of fans and sports personalities considered his actions disrespectful.