KC Royals Turned Jose Bautista from Hero to Goat


Jose Bautista, vaunted right fielder for the Blue Jays, couldn’t have had a better day in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. Until he didn’t. That gaffe ended up being the deciding factor for the KC Royals to reach the World Series once again.

Is Jose Bautista the most admired slugger in baseball, the most hated, the player most loved by himself? Perhaps all of the above.

Here is long quote from the wrong Holland, not Greg, but Derek Holland of the Texas Rangers talking about all the things that Bautista is and all that is wrong with that:

"“He’s the most animated player I’ve ever seen. After watching him in the outfield cry about every single thing, it’s unbelievable. I don’t care if he hits a home run off me, that’s fine, I give up home runs, I’ve struck people out, I do all that stuff, it’s how baseball goes. But the way you do it – is he better than the game? Yeah, you lived in the moment, that’s great. You hit a home run? Yeah, you can pimp it. That’s fine. But the way he did it, I just think that one – that’s a bit much. That’s cool if you want to stare at the pitcher, because obviously the pitcher made the mistake. If it’s me, I made the mistake; you hit the home run? Cool, stare at me. I’m going to be the one that’s not actually staring at you, I’m going to watch and see how far you just hit it because that’s how I am. I like to punish myself by seeing that. But the way he did it, I don’t like it at all. I mean, personally, I don’t like him, either. Especially after seeing more about him during the game, and being out in the outfield and seeing how he complains about every single thing. It’s like, no matter what, if you throw anything close to the plate, and it’s a ball, it’s supposed to be a ball for him – no matter what. It’s like we can’t have any calls or anything like that, it’s always his way. I just don’t like that. I’m not a big fan of him.”"

So how did this play out in Game 6 of Toronto’s swan song against the Royals? Well, it ended by sending the Mets and the New York media to Kauffman Tuesday night.

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When the KC Royals took a 2-0 lead on home runs from Ben Zobrist and Mike Moustakas, it was Mr. Bautista that was in the Royals’ face. The Jays saw and they believed. Jose would bring them back, avenge the 1985 ALCS loss to the Royals, and bring the pennant back to North of the Border.

Bautista put his teammates, David Price, and the Jays’ fans on his back and carried them. In the top of the fourth, after Donaldson flied out, Bautista on a 3-1 count went deep off of Yordano Ventura, cutting the Royal lead in half.

After the suddenly insane Alex Rios got the almost certain game winning insurance run in the bottom of the seventh, back came the Jays.

Ned did the almost unthinkable in the top of the 8th.  With a trip to the World Series almost in the bag, if Ned pushes one last Wade Davis button, sending him out for a six inning save.

Instead, Ned strategically inserts Ryan Madson. Ben Revere gets an infield hit and Donaldson is called out on strikes  In steps mighty Jose, with the tying run in his back pocket. There is some speculation that Jose has told his manager that he can’t run very well. John Gibbons seems to beaming at Jose–he doesn’t necessarily have to run fast with a certain play.

But executing that certain play would seem to be far from automatic. Yet in a way it seems to be pre-ordained. Bautista makes the wind to left unnecessary as he homers still again tying the game.

Has Yost blown it with Madson in? A walk to Encarnacion pushes Ned over the tipping point. In strides the someone even more feared than Bautista. With the impending Stars Wars Seven about to arrive on the silver screen, we have a new hero, Darth Vader Davis, a pitcher that only rules the Dark Side for opposing fans. Two more outs.

Then, after a rain delay, we get to the bottom of the eighth. Enter the crippled rabbit Lorenzo Cain. He jogs, he saunters, he limps and always at almost amazing base to base speed. This is our new Star Wars hero, the one that we see in the every new Star Wars’ trailers.  Lorenzo Cain walks with no one out.

Cue something analogous from Game 7 of the 1946 World Series. The Cardinals’ Enos Country Slaugher gets to first on a single. Then two outs are made and it appears up to Harry Walker to get Slaughter home from first. He did that famously with his single heard around the world. Slaughter went from first to home on that one base knock, leading to a Cardinals World Championship and a game that will live in baseball lore.

So can Cain do the same, also from first base?  He can try. Eric Hosmer came up and reenter our hero Jose Bautista.  The potential game winner is on first.  Everyone in the ball park knows that Cain must be stopped from scoring that fateful run.

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Every knows except Jose Bautista.  Hoz hits his ball down to the left of Bautista for a base hit. Cain saunters, he gazelles, he motors to second. Bautista grabs the ball and  makes his fateful decision.  Where should he throw the ball? Should he stop Hoz from getting into scoring position with an insurance run? Or stop the lead run in the person of Lorenzo Cain?

Surely Cain can’t actually score, thinks Bautista. Let’s stop Hoz in his tracks. Do the safe thing. Don’t throw home. Bautista sees, he thinks, he judges, he misjudges and throws to the wrong base. The Toronto hero has made this kind of error? Seriously?

Bad boy Bautista ignores the lead runner.  Lorenzo Cain can thus ignore that fateful throw and do his Slaughter-esque Mad Dash Home.

With this run, with this-makes-Ned-a-hero run, with this run that the Royals fans will forever cherish,  Cain lopes home with the eventual winning run (after a hair raising ninth in which Deadeye Davis scares us all and does the winning thing).

But somewhere Jose Bautista is smiling tonight post-game.  He saved the Toronto by those two home runs.

But more than that, he kept Eric Hosmer from getting to second as Cain rounded third.  He had the two biggest offensive plays, but he then foiled the KC Royals with his brilliantly thought-through throw. To the wrong bag.

Next: Wade Davis: Kansas City is Your Oyster