For years, a night like this seemed impossible. The stuff of fairy dust and dreams. When the Toronto Blue Jays acquired Jose Bautista in 2008 for a player to be named later, he was a spare part. A major leaguer, but not a great deal more. In the past seven years, Jose Bautista has enjoyed the best and worst of times in this city, blossoming into a bonafide superstar along the way. Now, finally, he has his moment.
In many ways, Bautista has been the barometer of the Blue Jays fan base since 2008. His quick temper and openly opinionated ways have not always gone over well, but they’ve given this organization a constant source of “give-a-damn”. Sometimes, he’s been alone in that.
The Jays continue to stack great moments on top of one another. First came the walk off home run from Josh Donaldson to cap off the final home game of the season, then Troy Tulowitzki‘s blast over the left field wall in Texas. Edwin Encarnacion got a long-deserved moment of his own tonight, and I’m not sure that ball has landed just yet.
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So many of Bautista’s great moments have fallen on flat ears, completely wasted in the midst of seasons that went nowhere. Soaring guitar solos in the middle of horrible songs. To see him play a starring role on a team that has reached this level, especially at this point late in his career, has been a joy.
On a roster now suddenly filled with leaders and plus personalities, Bautista remains the pulse. Sometimes this has meant operating in the shadows of Josh Donaldson or David Price, but as an All Star for the sixth straight season, Bautista continues to produce. His 40 home runs this year gave him his third season of crossing that plateau, while his 114 RBI and 110 walks both rank second in his career numbers.
The complaints have already started to trickle out of the Texas Rangers clubhouse. Reliever Sam Dyson has told reporters that Bautista needs to “respect the game a little more”, which, frankly, is comical. It’s a sport, a game, and no longer your grandfather’s version of that game.
After the career that Jose Bautista has pushed himself through, and the determination it’s taken him to carry failed roster after failed roster, nobody deserves their moment like number 19. Flip that bat, Jose. Flip it to the damn moon.