Bautista shows he can take a punch

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave while watching replays of the Toronto-Texas skirmish Sunday, a real baseball fight when most on-the-field confrontations are usually GMA, general milling around.

There is no doubt in my mind that eventually there will be some sort of on-the-field challenge between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates because it seems over the last four seasons somebody gets hit every other at-bat.

WHILE WATCHING THE Toronto-Texas battle royale I saw (like everybody else) Texas second baseman Rouged Odor land a huge right cross onto the jaw of Toronto’s Jose Bautista. Either Odor is a power puff puncher or Bautista can take a punch because it was a direct hit and Bautista didn’t go down.

“I have to give it to him, he got me pretty good,” said Bautista. “But I didn’t go down. I guess it takes a bigger man to knock me down.”


ALL THIS STARTED last fall when Bautista set a distance record with a bat flip after a home run in the American League Championship last October. The Rangers waited several games this season and for Bautista’s last at-bat of a weekend series in Arlington, Tex.

Bautista was hit by pitcher Matt Bush, who made the majors for the first time this week after spending 3 1/2 years in prison after leaving the scene of an accident when he was under the influence of alcohol.

Bautista didn’t do anything after he was hit. But when a ground ball was hit to shortstop, Bautista slid extremely hard into Odor and mayhem certainly was his intent. Then came the worst part of the whole thing.

Odor through the ball nearly underhand at Bautista’s face and the ball glanced off Bautista’s helmet. That was the dirtiest part of the whole incident and in this case Odor was the guilty party.

JOEY VOTTO is making good on his comments about making baseball fun, even when he is hitting .215 with 40 strikeouts and 23 walks in 121 at bats.

When Washington’s Bryce Harper said baseball should be fun, Votto agreed. He and Brandon Phillips have come up with a leaping, arm-bumping celebratory act after home runs.

Votto, though, took it a step farther Sunday in Philadelphia. He acted as if he was going to flip a baseball to a fan wearing a Phillies jersey, then kept the ball.

That’s something you don’t do in Philadelphia, where fans once threw snowballs at a guy dressed as Santa Claus at a Philadelphia Eagles game.

THE FANS BOOED Votto from that point on and chanted, “Jo-ey, Jo-ey,” the rest of the game. And when Votto struck out in the ninth inning to go 0 for 5 they gave him a standing ovation.

Fortunately for Votto he picked the last game the Reds will play in Philadelphia this season. But Phillies fans won’t forget next year or the year after. Just ask Brandon Phillips, who still gets booed in St. Louis after he ignited the Cardinals in 2010 with some pointed criticism. They still boo him. And, of course, Reds fans in Cincinnati still boo Yadier Molina, the Cardinals catcher who started the fight in Great American Ball Park by pushing Phillips.

Former Phillies third baseman, Dayton-native and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt does weekend broadcast for the Phillies and when he saw what Votto did he sent an autographed baseball to the kid.

BASEBALL WRITERS are supposed to be unbiased, they are required to be non-fans, but every writer wants the team he covers to do well. Readership is higher when a team wins and much lower when a team loses.

You might say that Reds fans this year are almost illiterate when it comes to reading about the Reds.

Anyway, I grew up in Akron, just 35 miles from old Cleveland Municipal Stadium and I was an Indians fan. Still am, but I keep it in the closet.

MY DAD, a huge Tribe fan, took me to Indians games and in 1948, when I was eight, I saw Larry Doby and Satchell Paige (in his rocking chair in the bullpen) and Bob Feller and Lou Boudreau.

In 1954, when the Indians won 111 games and lost the World Series to the New York Giants in four straight, I attended a doubleheader against the New York Yankees, along with 78,000 other fans. The highlight? I got a baseball during batting practice hit into the right field seats by Indians back-up catcher Hal Naragon.

The Reds and Indians face each other four straight games, starting tonight in Cleveland and Tuesday in Cleveland, then two games Wednesday and Thursday in Cincinnati.

So which team should I secretly root for, the team that I cover (the Reds) or the team I grew up rooting for (the Indians)? I’ll let you guess.





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