I don’t remember much from the first Blue Jays game that I went to. I couldn’t tell you what the score was, or even who we were playing. The only thing I remember was Jose Bautista scorching a double down the left field line. My memory of that game does a pretty good job of summing up the Blue Jays from the late 2000s’ to the early 2010s’. We didn’t have a lot to cheer for, but we had Jose Bautista.
Since the Jays acquired Bautista from the Pittsburgh Pirates for a forgettable catcher by the name of Robinson Diaz in 2009, he’s hit 288 home runs, and has 765 RBI (as of Sept. 29, 2017) with the Jays. Bautista has also been an All-Star six times, won three Silver Slugger awards, and led the majors in home runs in both the 2010 and 2011 seasons. In fact, Bautista has more home runs than any player in the MLB since 2010.
To those who detest the Dominican-born slugger, he is nothing more than a bat flipping caricature who does not respect the game of baseball. Some refer to him as a “hotdog”. But Blue Jays fans adore him. After all, he inspired a generation of Blue Jays fans with his electrifying style of play over the better part of ten seasons, most notably his now legendary home run in the 7th inning in Game Five of the 2015 AL Division Series against the Texas Rangers and the famous bat flip that went along with it. With Jose Bautista’s time in Toronto coming to an end, it is truly the end of an era. I thought I’d do a countdown of Bautista’s most memorable moments in a Blue Jays uniform.
#5 April 21, 2015: Bautista Illustrates Why You Should Never Throw Behind Him
After staring down Orioles reliever Jason Garcia, who threw a fastball behind him, Bautista crushed a home run. He took his time getting out of the batter’s box, glared at Garcia, and then flipped his bat, which drew the ire of many of the Orioles players in the field, who exchanged words with Bautista as he was trotting around the bases. This was just another event that added fuel to the already strong feud between Orioles relief pitchers and Jose Bautista.
#4 September 22, 2015: Bautista Shows His Absolute Cannon of an Arm as he Throws Out Two Yankees From the Outfield in the Same Game
Bautista’s arm was was once feared around the league, but shoulder injuries prevented him from showing off his cannon for most of the 2015 and 2016 seasons. He still had some gas left in the tank though, as he cut down two New York Yankees in the same game, “vintage Bautista” style.
#3 August 23, 2010: Bautista Joins the Exclusive 50 Home Run Club
With this swing, Jose Bautista became just the 26th player in MLB history, and the first Blue Jay, to hit 50 home runs in a single season. He finished the season with an MLB leading 54 home runs. His 2010 home run total is also a franchise record for most home runs in a single season, and was the most home runs hit in the majors since Alex Rodriguez did it back in 2007.
#2 May 15, 2016: Bautista Would Rather Get punched in May, Than Knocked Out in October
In his final plate appearance of the season against the Rangers, Matt Bush hit Jose Bautista in the ribs as retaliation for the famous bat flip from the prior season. Two batters later, Bautista slid hard (and illegally) into second base in an attempt to break up a double play. Rangers second baseman, Rougned Odor, throws his entire five foot six frame into a punch that catches Bautista square in the jaw. While Odor won the fight, Bautista won the war, as the Jays eliminate the Rangers in the ALDS for the second straight year.
#1 October 14, 2015: The Bat Flip Heard Around the World
After a freak play saw Rougned Odor score in the top of the seventh inning of Game Five of the 2015 ALDS, Jose Bautista hammered a go-ahead three run shot in the bottom of the same inning. All of Canada explodes with joy. It is without a doubt the best bat flip in human history. While Joe Carter’s 1993 World Series winning walk-off home run is certainly the most important home run in Blue Jays history, this home run is the most electrifying, and rightfully earned its place in sports history. Jose, we thank you and salute you for your service.